Surviving the odds

Sophomore is given a 25% chance of living and survives


Photo via. Dillon Von Freiberg

Hanging on to his life, sophomore Dillon Von Freiberg receives treatment for Steven-Johnson Syndrome. Von Freiberg spent an entire month in the burn unit of the hospital where he wasn’t able to eat, drink, or move. “I had just gotten out of surgery, they had to put a feeding tube in me because everything including my mouth blistered,” Von Freiberg said. “I wasn’t able to eat food and I was passed out because of the meds they gave me.”

Miguel Paredes Reyes, Staff Reporter

Constrained to a bed, on multiple different pain medications and having no clue what’s going on. No one knows what’s wrong or what will happen, the only thing that is known for sure is that the chances of coming out of this alive are less than 25%. Who knew something as little as a fever would turn into such a life threatening experience. What may sound like a cheesy plot to an overly dramatic movie was nothing but reality for sophomore Dillon Von Freiberg.

After what was thought by Von Freiberg and his family about his abnormally high fever of being the cause of a tick bite. They would later find out to be a lot worse and something they weren’t expecting at all. It was then known that night in the hospital that he had been diagnosed with Steven-Johnson Syndrome from a reaction his body had to an antibiotic. Things would not get better from there, Steven Johnson Syndrome only involves up to 30% of the skin being infected, Von Freibergs skin was 90% affected by the reaction. This is called TENS (Toxic Epidermal Necrolysis), everytime the percentage of skin affected goes up, your chances of surviving go down. After the initial diagnosis, Von Freiberg was then transferred to the burn unit at Saint Elizabeth Hospital where he would undergo three surgeries to take the place of the affected and blistered skin to start healing from the inside out instead of the outside in like skin usually grows.

He had not been able to get out of bed for about three weeks. He wasn’t able to eat or drink as his lips and mouth had also been affected by the reaction so he had to be hooked through a tube which is how he was fed for his recovery period in the hospital. As a result of being in a hospital bed for a long period of time, doctors said that everyday Von Freiberg is in that bed is two to three days more of difficulties using his legs. Now Von Freiberg is spending time in physical therapy getting his muscles in his legs back to full strength.

“When I was in the hospital it sucked,” Von Freiberg said. “I was in a bed for three weeks straight only able to watch movies, it was terrible. My family was terrified, they thought they were going to lose me.”

Doctors had told his mother Lisa Von Freiberg that she would more than likely return home without her son. This information did not make her give up hope for her son that he would make it through this.

“I was just trying to be supportive and to tell him that he wasn’t going to die,” Lisa said. “He had a lot of people praying for him and I think that’s part of the reason he survived.”

Not only had this fatal experience have a big emotional impact on his family but it had also left Von Freibergs friends worried about him.

“I was devastated because it looked really bad,” sophomore Eli Jhanke said. “I just felt bad for him and I was confused on how it happened.”

Doctors have given Von Freiberg about a month for the rest of his skin to fully recover. As of right now he is required to keep most of his skin covered and he is not allowed to be out in the sun for long periods of time as it could further damage his skin.