Vacation Gone Wrong: Teen Opens Up About Her Sudden Paralysis Due to Rare Disease

People Magazine published an article about 20-year-old Kara Dunn who suddenly became paralyzed during a vacation to Spain, due to a rare disease she didn’t know she had.

Guillain-Barré Syndrome

Kara was diagnosed with Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS), which causes the immune system to attack the peripheral nervous system. GBS symptoms usually start with tingling and weakness in the legs, intensifying and spreading into the arms and torso as the disorder progresses.

The most severe cases of GBS result in near-complete paralysis, and this is when the syndrome becomes life-threatening, possibly affecting breathing, heart rate, or blood pressure. It is unpredictable in cause, severity, and recovery.

This was the case for Kara.

Kara’s Story

“It was the most terrifying two weeks of my life,” she said. “I was unable to speak or move, and the doctors weren’t sure I would survive.”

The onslaught of symptoms happened about three days into her vacation to Spain. By the time she arrived at the nearest hospital, she couldn’t move her arms, hands, legs and feet. The situation turned critical when Kara’s respiratory system began to fail and she developed pneumonia.

“I laid there. Paralyzed. Unable to talk and thinking that I would never be able to walk again.”

She was hospitalized in Spain for two weeks, and then airlifted to the Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix, Arizona.

“Kara is having an amazing recovery,” said Dr. Christina Kwasnica, the medical director of the Neuro-Rehabilitation Center. “I expect her to make a full recovery but she will have to continue working hard to be ready for school this fall.”

We are so thankful Kara is doing much better!

To read more about GBS, click here!

And to read the entire People article on Kara’s story, click here!