Human Interest

Woman becomes first with her rare condition to give birth

When Stephanie Turner was born, doctors could see that something wasn’t quite right.  Her skin was like armor. She was diagnosed with Harlequin ichthyosis, a rare condition that causes the skin to be thicker and deeply cracked and can also cause the eyes, ears, and limbs to be abnormal as a result. Turner doesn’t have a top layer of skin, can’t grow hair, and is unable to sweat.

“I’ve actually had someone come up to me and ask if I was in a fire,” Stephanie told The Mirror. “If it gets too hot I had to stay in, I’d get sick, pus would come up, my skin would hurt and it would be awful.”

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People with this condition are at risk of fatal infections as the skin is susceptible to bacteria, so doctors told Turner’s parents that their daughter may not survive more than a few days. But Turner surprised everyone and grew up to become the second oldest person in the United States with Harlequin icthyosis. She credits a special lotion with helping her to beat the odds.

“I always spend about 15-minutes putting lotion on because my skin is so tight and doesn’t have any give,” she said. “The skin is the only thing I’ve ever known, it’s just born like this so I don’t know how to look at myself any different.”

Turner continued to surprise medical teams by becoming the first woman with the condition to become pregnant since most people don’t live to child-bearing age. Doctors didn’t know what to expect and were concerned for her health. They weren’t sure if the skin on her stomach would stretch, but if it did, it could have serious impacts on her skin and therefore her health. Turner told The Mirror that she knew it was a risk to her life to be pregnant.

After the birth of her healthy baby boy, Turner and her husband were ecstatic.

“It was so worth it, every bit of it,” she said. “I mean, he’s amazing. He’s so happy and he’s just so alert, there’s no words that even describe.”

Turner and her husband decided not to have more children, but life had other plans and they were soon expecting a baby girl, who like her brother, was born healthy.

One person not expected to live has now become a wife and mother, bringing two more lives into the world. She proves that doctors don’t always have the answers and they certainly can’t predict the future.

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