Teen can't escape painful grip of MRSA

An 18-year-old MRSA patient from Toms River is finally on the upswing after months of battling the antibiotic-resistant infection, but there is still no end in sight for the girl's medical woes.

Jessica Parker was diagnosed with the staph infection over the summer. Since her diagnosis, Parker has been hospitalized seven times and suffered more than 100 seizures. The teenager has also stopped breathing twice.

Parker says her most painful outbreak resulted in a scalp wound with bleeding so severe it exposed her skull. The teenager's most recent sores appeared on her lips and eyebrows.

While the antibiotic Parker has been taking has helped limit outbreaks, it has not killed the bacteria. Doctors say the teenager may need to remain on medication for the rest of her life.

Due to her medical situation, Parker couldn't attend her high school graduation and has been unable to begin college. Kim Ferrara, the girl's single mother, has had to take unpaid work leave to care for her sick child.

"She was just in severe pain all the time. It was hard to watch her," says Ferrara.

Family members have helped pay the mortgage and some of Ferrara's co-workers have donated sick time to help alleviate the financial hardship. However, Ferrara says Christmas will still have to be postponed this year.

Ferrara remains positive, however, saying her daughter's health is the only gift they want.

For an extended interview with Parker and her mother, go to channel 612 on your iO digital cable box and select iO Extra.

Related information: Dept. of Health and Senior Services

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