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Woman Overcomes Rare Disease To Compete In Ironman

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Denver woman hopes to raise awareness about Stevens-Johnson syndrome.

Running on the Cherry Creek Trail, Emilie Nickoloff and her husband, David, are training for the race of their lives, an Ironman triathlon.

She’s in the best physical condition of her life. It’s a stark contrast to four years ago when Nickoloff was admitted to the University of Colorado Hospital burn unit with a rare and potentially lethal disease.

“I had a fever of 104 and finally, we decided it was time to go to the hospital,” Nickoloff said. “We noticed there was a rash forming on my arms. It started to spread all over my torso.”

She was diagnosed with Stevens-Johnson syndrome.

“It’s an autoimmune reaction,” said Dr. Gordon Lindberg, medical director of the University of Colorado Hospital burn unit. “You take a medication, and for reasons that we don’t understand completely, the body forms an allergic reaction to the skin, and the skin sloughs off.”

The reaction also affects the mucous membranes, especially in the mouth, nose and eyes. In severe cases, patients can lose their vision. Nickoloff’s vision was saved through cutting-edge amniotic membrane transplants.

Read more: thedenverchannel.com