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Woman left in 17 day coma after taking ibuprofen for period pain


Jaqueline Gmack, 31, decided to take ibuprofen when her menstrual cramps started, taking the over-the-counter medication as usual.

However, a few days later, she started experiencing a mild itch in her eye.

After waking up with blood blisters inside her mouth the next day, she went to hospital – where her condition continued to get worse, her entire face covered in blisters, while she also found herself barely able to see.

The next thing Jaqueline remembers is waking up from a 17-day induced coma.

“It was like I’d been burned from the inside out,” Jaqueline said.

“I didn’t know what had happened to me.

“I noticed my entire body was bandaged, my vision was completely blurred, and I had a tube down my throat, but I wasn’t in any pain.

“Only then did the penny start to drop and I realized that I was very weak, and that something very serious had happened to me.”


It turned out the issue was down to Stevens-Johnson Syndrome, a rare condition triggered by her body reacting to the medication.

Jacqueline Gmack was in coma after using ibuprofen for period pain

The condition is caused by the body’s overreaction to medicine, particularly epilepsy medicines, antibiotics, and anti-inflammatory painkillers, with the body attacking its own skin, in turn causing agonizing blisters and peeling.

Without treatment, it can be life-threatening.

Jaqueline Gmack, from Papanduva, Brazil, continued: “They [doctors] told me it was a miracle I’d survived.

“My family didn’t let me see myself in the mirror for a few days.

“When I did finally look in the mirror, I saw someone I didn’t recognize.”

The condition left Jaqueline with scarring and severely damaged her eyes, and she started immediate ophthalmologist treatment in a bid to save her vision, which she will have to continue for life.

She added: “He [the ophthalmologist] also said I needed to have surgery as quickly as possible otherwise I would lose the eye organ.

“I left the office crying.”

Since her first operation back in 2011, Jacqueline has now had more than 24 operations, including cornea transplants, amniotic membrane transplants, and stem cell transplants.

With currently around 40 percent vision, she continues to have fortnightly check-ups to monitor how her eyes are doing.

“The most difficult obstacle to overcome is knowing I can never have the vision that I once had,” Jaqueline said.

“I wish I could find a cure to see again.

“But I feel like a warrior.”


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