WEST ASHLEY, SC (WCSC) - "We thought it was a sinus infection," said Nancy Mallard, talking about her daughter Rachel. "Next thing you know, she spent the next two and half weeks on a ventilator, completely paralyzed."
Many parents would call this their worst nightmare. Their daughter goes to the hospital for something originally thought to be minor and ends up paralyzed, fighting for her life.
That's what happened to 14-year-old Rachel Mallard just a few months ago when she contracted the rare disorder called Guillain Barre Syndrome (GBS).
GBS is a rare disorder in which your body's immune system attacks your nerves.
"The body attacks itself," said MUSC Pediatric Critical Care Physician Dr. Elizabeth Mack. "It's usually triggered by some type of virus or other type of infection a few weeks beforehand."
Dr. Mack is one of the doctors who treated Rachel Mallard.
She said those who get the disorder often don't realize they have it and only a few experience the severe symptoms that Rachel dealt with.
"It usually effects 1 in 100,000 people," said Dr. Mack. "Then in some people, it tends to trigger an auto-immune response. So, the body attacks its own nerve cells."
For 3 months Rachel went through a series of treatments.
"She was in excruciating pain," said Nancy Mallard.
Her hope for survival was slim.
"I would just sit there and say, 'I don't want to die,'" said Rachel. "I was scared that I would actually just die in my sleep."
"She actually wrote on a board, 'am i going to die?'" Said Nancy Mallard, talking about when Rachel had tubes going down her throat and couldn't talk. "I mean I get chills. There was a chapel there and her father and I would go and we would pray and pray and I would cry."
Nancy said the prayers and treatments are the reasons Rachel is alive and made a full recover.
Now, cards and support signs cover Rachel's room.
The Mallards, are many others, wear wrist bands that read, 'rootin for Rachel,' that were designed by Rachel's sister when she was in the hospital.
Rachel is back at school, but only going half days.
She hopes to be cheering on the West Ashley Wildcats in the fall.