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January 28, 2014

She's got heart

Area student excels in spite of rare illness

(Continued)

Doctors look for a specific set of symptoms when diagnosing Kawasaki disease. Most common symptoms of the illness include a fever that lasts more than five days, rashes, bloodshot eyes, bright red, swollen and cracked lips, a “strawberry tongue” with shiny red spots, swollen hands and feet and swollen lymph nodes in the neck.

“Kenzie never had the strawberry tongue, or the peeling,” said Nikki. “You have to have five symptoms to be diagnosed and if you don’t start treatment within 10 days, the heart can be severely damaged.”

Immunoglobulin (IVIG) treatments were given to Kenzie to help reduce the inflammation in her blood vessels as well as a high dose of aspirin therapy. After two days, she was sent home but the headaches persisted and Kenzie started seeing double.

A trip to a doctor in Terre Haute resulted in a trip to Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital where she underwent a spinal tap, EKG, and several MRIs to check for Sixth Nerve Palsy, a condition that affected Kenzie’s ability to turn her eyes.

“Kawasaki is so rare, the doctor asked if we cared if some of the medical students came in to see her. They said her case may be the only one they ever see,” said Nikki.

Today Kenzie leads a normal life. “I’m on a heart healthy diet and I get EKGs and echocardiograms from time to time,” said Kenzie.

Sunday was the fourth annual Kawasaki’s Awareness Day, a day Mayor Joe Wellman proclaimed last week as well, and Monday many of Kenzie’s teammates and friends wore special shirts to school that said “I love Kenzie’s Heart.” Family members also had special shirts made for the special day.

“All the money from the shirts we purchased went to the Kawasaki Disease Foundation,” said Sarah Lancaster, one of Kenzie’s friends and teammates. “I want to help other people like Kenzie.”

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