(WMC) - A Mid-South woman with a mystery illness is desperate for help that can keep her alive.
WMC Action News 5 shared the story of Shanyna Isom in a special report in 2012; she grows fingernails through the hair follicles in her skin. Two years later and the cost of a mystery illness continues to threaten her life.
She lives day to day with an ailment that baffles doctors. It's a skin disease that causes sharp stems, hard as fingernails, to grow out of the hair follicles all over her body. Click here for images (Images be difficult to view for some readers).
"They had to try something to try to keep me alive," Isom said.
For the past four years, doctors at Johns Hopkins University Hospital have been studying Isom and keeping her alive with massive doses of medication. But she often can't afford the costly trip to Baltimore or the many medications that have been prescribed.
Between visits to Baltimore, Dr. Mukesh Jain in Southaven helps Isom deal with the many complications of her mystery illness.
"I had not seen any condition like that before in my life either. I have been practicing for almost 30 years now," Jain said.
During an exam Jain sees a vast improvement over her previous visit. The sharp stems have cleared from her face and arms but still cover her shoulders and back. The sores on her stomach may never heal.
The medicated pads that ward off infection cost $25,000 a month.
"I'm over a million dollars in debt from this illness," Isom said.
Anderson Cooper offered to pay some of her medical bills, but that generous gift ran out in four months.
Family and friends have exhausted their savings to keep the disease from killing her; donations have run dry.
"Monthly donations or sponsors to help me along the way ... I would truly appreciate it," Isom said about her needs.
A lot of people might have let a life threatening disease win the battle by now, but Shanyna Isom isn't giving up. The generosity of others is what keeps her going.
"I can't give up on them, and so that's how I push day to day. It's hard at times but without them I couldn't have made it," Isom said.
There is no diagnosis or cure for Isom's disease. The treatments only keep it from killing her.
She has established a Go Fund Me account and a foundation for donations and to help others with unknown illnesses. Click here to help: http://www.gofundme.com/ear72w.