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KAKE: Two families affected by common antibiotic meet

By Taylor Adams

For months, we've been following the story of a Wichita girl who died earlier this year after taking a commonly prescribed antibiotic.

Now, the FDA has recognized research connecting the drug to lung failure and more families are coming forward with their own stories.

Before last week, Brie Kerschen and Aimee Caldwell had never met, but they have more in common than you would believe.

Both women are nurses and both mothers of two young girls. Zei Uwadia and Abigail Caldwell experienced the same suffering.

It started with a routine infection and a prescription for a common antibiotic.

"Abigail was on day 18 of Bactrim and she woke up and she had a low grade fever," says Caldwell.

Her father, BJ, remembers feeling helpless as Abigail was flown to St. Louis Children's Hospital. Abigail's lungs were failing and doctors were stunned.

Call it nurse's instinct or a mother's intuition, but from day one, Aimee had a suspicion.

"I talked to the nurse and I said, can this be a latent reaction to Bactrim? And I remember she kind of laughed at me a little bit and said, aren't you a nurse?"

Abigail died in May of 2018, just 37 days after her first dose of the antibiotic, leaving the Caldwell's with no answers on why their little girl was gone. 

Nearly 8 months after Abigail died, the Caldwell's saw an article in CNN about Zei. Like Abigail, she was on ECMO, but it was Zei's ability to walk on the treatment that gained her national attention and finally gave the Caldwell's answers. 

"The similarities of the instinct that said this is Bactrim," says Brie Kerschen.

Abigail is now one of a growing list of people involved in a study involving Bactrim and its generic equivalents.

"I am certain that there are more cases," says Dr. Jenna Miller.

Dr. Miller, one of Zei's doctors at Children's Mercy in Kansas City, says without Zei, Abigail and the girls' parents, none of this research would be possible.

"Historically a lot of these patients did just die and we never knew what happened to them," she says.

Both mothers say the research won't bring their daughters back, but it will give them the chance to help others.

Experts say Bactrim and all it's generic equivalents do have an important place in the medical community, but patients should feel comfortable questioning their doctors and even refusing the medicine if they or anyone in their family is allergic.

In the meantime, researchers are developing a test that could determine if a patient will have a reaction before taking Bactrim.


See the full story via KAKE

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