Mid-South teen faces life-threatening mystery diagnosis for 9 mo - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Mid-South teen faces life-threatening mystery diagnosis for 9 months

(Source: WMC Action News 5) (Source: WMC Action News 5)
Kennedy with her braces (Source: Family) Kennedy with her braces (Source: Family)
A doctor shows off examples of Kennedy's allergic reaction. (Source: WMC Action News 5) A doctor shows off examples of Kennedy's allergic reaction. (Source: WMC Action News 5)
MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) -

For months, a medical mystery plagued a Mid-South family whose teenage daughter was too weak to go to school and too sick to swallow food.

It turns out the source of her sickness was right in front of them.

With blisters and lesions around and inside her mouth, 15-year-old Kennedy Odom was in constant pain.

Kennedy missed months of school and visited multiple doctors.

"Kennedy is my only child and just watching her suffer, you can't do anything to help your child and the people who are knowledgeable don't know how to help you," said Kennedy's mother Cicely Odom-Rose. 

"They ran a lot of different tests, and it was everything as mundane from strep throat to Stevens Johnson Syndrome and they ruled out everything,"
explained Kennedy's godmother Tamara Irving.

"At one point, they took her off all the antibiotics and just left her on pain medication," said Odom-Rose.

Unable to chew or swallow food, Kennedy lost more than 30 pounds. 

"Here in Memphis everything is centered around food, so she would avoid eating and, of course, I would not want to eat around her," said Odom-Rose.

As the sore throats and breakouts got worse, Kennedy's mom and Godmother turned to the internet.

"We did a lot of research on our own, Googling things, Youtube videos, just anything," said Irving. 

It was then her family realized the source of Kennedy's problems may have been staring them in the face all along.

"We asked 'Is it possible that since all of the issues are surrounding her mouth area, inside her mouth, her lips, that it may have something to do with her braces?'" said Irving. 

Kennedy was allergic to the metal in her mouth. 

Both she and her mom got braces in February 2015. Nine months later, Kennedy's health problems started.

It wasn't until doctors zeroed in on her braces that they discovered Kennedy has a nickel allergy.

Memphis Board Certified Periodontist Dr. Mitchel Godat is currently treating Kennedy. 

"Where the nickel was touching her mouth, her mouth had the outbreak of these lesions," said Dr. Godat. "In her case, she has a hyper-immune system for lots of things."

Dr. Godat said talking to your dentist about your allergies can be the difference between life and death.

"Even something that seems so minor to tell a dentist or a physician, you have got to tell them all of your medical history," he said. 

Kennedy also has a team of doctors for other underlying health conditions.

"What we were told by doctors at the Asthma Allergy Clinic is that this is the only second documented case in Shelby County that they know of for a fact where the child has a nickel allergy that was brought on by her braces," said Irving. 

Her family is now thousands of dollars out of pocket for prescriptions and testing, which have strained their budget. 

"We are probably in $15,000 right now," said Odom-Rose. 

Looking back, Kennedy's mom only wishes she had known the symptoms of nickel allergy sooner.

"To me, it's important to let parents know to be aware and to be diligent and be proactive when it comes to your child's health, because no one knows your child better than you," she said. 

Kennedy had her braces removed last month.

Symptoms of nickel allergy include a rash or bumps on the skin, itching, redness, dry patches, and blisters in some severe cases.

Nickel-sensitive patients can get braces made of titanium, ceramic or plastic.

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