Doctors were stunned when 28-year-old beautician Shayna Isom showed up with black fingernails growing from every hair follicle on her body. She is the only known person to suffer from this bizarre condition, which has affected her eyesight, bones and ability to walk. Doctors at Johns Hopkins University describe her condition as severe, with black scabs growing long and sticking anyone who comes near.
Shayna is a University of Memphis student and has $500,000 in unpaid medical bills because of her strange condition. While she has state insurance, her treatment is not covered at Johns Hopkins because it is out of state. Her mother also lost her job as a medical receptionist so that she could stay at home and take care of her daughter. Once a month, mother and daughter travel to Maryland so that doctors can monitor her treatment.
Shayna first presented with the condition after receiving treatment for an asthma attack at an emergency room in September 2009. Doctors suspect that she had an allergic reaction that threw her body off-track. After coming home from the ER, she first experienced itching. She was prescribed Benadryl, but to no avail. Shortly after, her skin turned black like she had been severely burned and her body started scabbing all over. A biopsy and other tests for a staph infection or eczema revealed nothing. Shayna's doctor in Memphis threw up his hands in frustration and told her that she would likely live like this for the rest of her life.
But Shayna and her mother were not ready to give up and traveled to Maryland to get a second opinion at Johns Hopkins. There, doctors discovered that she was producing 12 times the number of skin cells in each hair follicle, but instead of hairs the cells were producing human nails. Doctors believe that her skin isn't getting enough oxygen and have her on several medications, only five of which are covered by insurance. But she doesn't give up–she is buoyed by the strength and tenacity of young patients in the hospital suffering from grave illnesses and by the generous outpouring of financial and emotional support from her mother and the community.
recently named in the 2009 edition of Best Lawyer's In America, David Mittleman has been representing seriously injured people since 1985. A partner with Church Wyble PC—a division of Grewal Law PLLC—Mr. Mittleman and his partners focus on medical malpractice, wrongful death, car accidents, slip and falls, nursing home injury, pharmacy/pharmacist negligence and disability claims.