As the second-oldest person in the U.S. alive with Harlequin ichthyosis, Stephanie Turner knows a thing or two about beating the odds. Now, the 21-year-old woman has done it again, becoming the first person with the condition to ever give birth.
Harlequin ichthyosis is an extremely rare genetic disorder that destroys the integrity of the top layer of skin. As a result, Turner cannot grow hair, cannot sweat, and is highly susceptible to germs that would normally be blocked by the skin's outer barrier.
According to the National Institutes of Health, most infants with Harlequin ichthyosis develop life-threatening infections within weeks of being born. When Turner was born with the disorder, very few survived.
"That was 20 years ago, and 20 years ago, people, babies didn't survive with what I have. It's like one in a million," the Arkansas woman recalled in a mid-April interview with WMC-TV.
But Turner more than survived; with her husband, Kurt, she recently gave birth to a baby -- though not without some difficulty.
WMC-TV reports that after she was more than a week past her due date, doctors decided to induce labor. After four days, doctors opted for a cesarean section, but the epidural she had received only worked on half her body.
The team eventually delivered William, a 7-pound, 14-ounce baby boy in May, which happens to be Ichthyosis Awareness Month.
Now just over three months later, William is a healthy, happy child. Genetic tests conclude he will not inherit his mom's condition, and the family is looking forward to beating the odds -- together.
As Turner writes on her blog, "William ... will learn that you've got to pick your battles in life. Not everything has to be a big deal or a heart wrenching obstacle. Sometimes it helps to laugh about it and go on!"