A University of Arizona college student contracted a rare autoimmune disease that has left her paralyzed just three days into her Spain vacation.
Kara Dunn, a physiology student who will be a junior this fall, was rushed to the hospital on June 5 and diagnosed with Guillain-Barré Syndrome, Tucson News Now reported.
The condition causes the body’s immune system to attack the nerves, and begins with weakness and tingling in the extremities, according to the Mayo Clinic. The syndrome’s cause is unknown. However, it often follows an infectious illness.
While there is no cure, most people recover from it but may experience some lingering effects, the Mayo Clinic says.
On a GoFundMe page started for Kara, her brother, Ryan Dunn, wrote, “The onset of the disorder was very sudden.”
Kara felt ill and had tingling sensations in her hands and face, but “decided to sleep it off,” according to Ryan. She woke up the next morning “unable to move.”
“At the hospital, she was sedated and intubated for severe pneumonia, which further complicated her condition,” Ryan wrote on the GoFundMe.
Kara, he added, traveled to Spain to explore the country. He wrote, “this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity meant the world to her.”
Now, Ryan said, “All we want is for Kara to be able to come home and get the best treatment available so she can regain her strength.”
“However, the only way this is possible is if she is air evacuated to Arizona. The cost of the emergency flight back to the United States, general medical expenses, physical therapy and transportation/housing for our family is over $100,000. This is why I am seeking your support,” Ryan explained.
On Monday, he wrote in an update that Kara is “still breathing without needing a tube.”
“Tonight will be a long battle, but if she can make it through without needing the tube put back in, it will be a very good sign,” he said. “She is a warrior.”
When her friends, including Jessica Kirkham, heard the news, they were in shock. But the student’s loved ones are focused on hoping for the best.
“We, absolutely, could not believe what is happening,” Kirkham told Tucson News Now. “We felt absolutely helpless. We’re like, ‘She’s on the other side of the world. We have no idea how we’re going to help her.’ We were so far. We were aching for the family. We’re aching for ourselves and our friends. It was brutal.”