Teen left parayzed, unable to talk after ear piercing went horribly wrong

Ear piercing is not normally something that is considered dangerous, but it can be, just ask 15-year-old Grace Etherington.

Grace developed a rare auto-immune disorder called Guillain-Barré syndrome when her ear became infected after it had been pierced a few days earlier. The first indication that something was wrong was a tingling sensation in her toes a few days after the piercing – doctors found nothing wrong with her. A few days after that and Grace could barely walk. Her mother, Sharon Etherington, rushed her to hospital.

In hospital, Grace’s condition deteriorated, and she was soon unable to walk or move any muscle in her body – except those in her eyes. She could communicate, but only via blinking.

Grace told the Daily Mail:

I wanted to tell Mum I loved her, and I could only do it by blinking. Being stuck in my body was horrible. My mum was there all the time. She saved me.

Doctors warned Grace and her mother to manage their expectations as they were not certain whether she would recover from the paralysis.

Grace’s mother Sharon explained her thoughts on her daughter’s deteriorating condition:

It was really frightening. She was deteriorating in front of my eyes. She’d always been such an active girl…. I was absolutely devastated.

Grace spent two days in a coma as her organs began to fail. Unable to breath unassisted, she was placed on a respirator. She spent six weeks in intensive care.

Sharon Etherington shared her thoughts on what happened next:

When she was lying in a hospital unable to move even a single muscle, we just never thought we’d see her walk again. She has made the most remarkable recovery. It really is a miracle.

Though dramatic, Grace’s recovery is no more “miraculous” than her initial infection. If treated early, most patients who are treated early for Guillain-Barré syndrome make a full recovery within a year of infection – in fact the condition only becomes chronic in about 3% of patients. For Grace to have taken her first steps two months after entering hospital could be considered a speedy recovery, but given her age and her state of health before the infection, it is probably what should have been expected. [Daily Mail]

Science and Tech

C.S. Magor is the editor-in-chief and a reporter at large for We Interrupt and Uberreview. He currently resides in the Japanese countryside approximately two hours from Tokyo - where he has spent the better part of a decade testing his hypothesis that Japan is neither as quirky nor as interesting as others would have you believe.
3 Comments on this post.
  • Tweets that mention Teen left parayzed, unable to talk after ear piercing went horribly wrong | We Interrupt — Topsy.com
    10 November 2010 at 1:23 pm
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    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Peter Palfrei, Alltop Odd. Alltop Odd said: Teen left parayzed, unable to talk after ear piercing went horribly wrong http://bit.ly/bkHRzz Oddities.alltop.com […]

  • hankster
    11 November 2010 at 2:13 pm
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    the mother said “she is losing her daughter”, but she should realize the way the kid looked that she lost her
    way before the ear piercing. What a dump parent! they both need a little psychological sessions soon.

  • Dr Sameotoko
    16 January 2011 at 1:19 am
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    I’m sure she didn’t get Guillain-Barré from the piercing, the most common cause worldwide for it is intestinal infection by Campylobacter jejuni, which is one of the leading causes of diarrhea in the planet…

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