The Grapevine

Mystery Illness Caused Teen To Lose Eyesight, Smell, Taste

When going on a cruise, the typical health risks that come to mind include seasickness, food poisoning, and related issues. But a teenage girl from Missouri developed something far more devastating. 

Jordyn Walker, 15, went on a cruise along with her family during the summer of 2017. However, she was suddenly taken ill after returning — the teen experienced stomach pain and bloody stools. Initially, doctors believed that was only suffering from a sinus infection.

But it became apparent that this was something more than an infection when she also began bleeding from her eyes and ears. Walker also lost her senses of smell and taste. The problem was that no medical expert could figure out exactly what was causing these symptoms.

Kendyll, the mother of the teen, explained how they were not given any answers after seeing several specialists in allergy, immunology, and rheumatology. After some limited recovery, the illness was labeled as a "one in a million case" that "probably would never happen again," she told KMBC

Despite the assurance, the illness did make a return against all odds. Last month, around a fortnight before Christmas, the teenager ended up in the emergency room with severe stomach pain, vomiting, and bloody diarrhea.

While in the waiting room, Walker also developed swelling around her eyes which led to a loss in vision within a few hours. "My whole face just turned purple and bruised and giant with blood," she said. The blood pressure behind her eyes was also abnormally high — an average of 85 mm Hg compared to a normal pressure of 12 to 22 mm Hg.

To relieve these symptoms, doctors cut slits by her eyes, hoping that it would allow the eye socket to open up. An emergency operation to reduce the swelling was later performed, involving partial removal of her orbital bones. But a few days later, it was confirmed that the girl had become permanently blind.

"Doctors believe that the blood flow to the optic nerve was compromised, severely damaging one nerve and completely destroying the other," stated the GoFundMe page set up by the Walker family to cover the high medical expenses. There has still not been a diagnosis to confirm what caused this mysterious illness.

"There are many symptoms pointing to some sort of autoimmune disorder or Vasculitis," the page revealed. "However, more research and testing will need to be done to determine an overall diagnosis."

After being hospitalized through most of the holidays, the teen has now returned home and is learning to adjust to life without vision. The family has said that there are plans to have her undergo more tests at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota in the near future.