KAKE NEWS INVESTIGATES: Breakthrough in Wichita teen's death

Posted: Updated:

For nearly a year, KAKE News has been following the story of a Wichita teen who died after spending 457 days in a Kansas City hospital. 

Now, a major breakthrough has been made with the FDA. 

"Zei would be so proud. I think she would be fighting maybe in a different way than I do. She's so strong," says Brie Kerschen, Zei Uwadia's mom. 

For months, doctors were stunned by Wichita teen, Zei Uwadia's mystery lung illness. Zei died early this year after a long stay in a Kansas City hospital. After her story reached national news, other patients with the same symptoms contacted her doctors. Finally, they connected the dots. Zei and the other patients had all been prescribed Bactrim, or its generic equivalent. 

"The numbers continue to increase for people who are interested in learning about whether their reaction had anything to do with this drug," says Dr. Miller. Zei's doctor at Children's Mercy in Kansas City. 

Dr. Miller published a study in the Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Researchers looked at five previously healthy young patients who had taken Bactrim or its generic equivalents. Of the patients, two died and all experienced lung failure. 

Now, another breakthrough. The Food and Drug Administration is recognizing the research. 

"The drug has been around since the 70s and we suspect there are several more injuries," says Kerschen. 

Before now, Acute Respiratory Failure was never listed as a possible reaction, but in a recent report, the FDA officially added Bactrim and its generic equivalents to its Watchlist. 

"By the FDA acknowledging that Bactrim causes acute respiratory failure in some patients is a big leap," says Kerschen.

For years, doctors have known about other serious reactions that start as rashes, but don't know what to look for with lung failure. In Zei's case, Kerschen says she felt uneasy, had a hard time breathing and couldn't get out of bed.

"I want it to be on the same level where when providers think that they're prescribing this drug, they need to think that this bad skin reaction can happen and this bad lung reaction can happen," says Dr. Miller.

Check out these photos from across KAKEland snapped by our viewers, staff and local officials. Do you have pictures to share with us? Email them to news@kake.com.


  • Most Popular Stories

    • Police identify woman killed in north Wichita accident

      A woman is dead after an accident in north Wichita.

    • Trio caught on camera taking guitar

      Security cameras captured three men taking a guitar from a West Wichita store. 

    • WSU changes gen ed requirements

      Big changes for Wichita State students working toward a degree.  The university voted in favor of lowering the number of general education credit hours required.  Kenzie Goering is studying to become a nurse, but she doesn't understand how certain courses will prepare her for her patients. "It just doesn't make sense to take a history class. Personally I'm majoring in nursing so I feel like history doesn't really apply to anything I'll be doing in the future so just t...

    • Man injured after running in front of bus in east Wichita

      One person is in critical condition after a wreck in east Wichita. 

    • Baseball stadium progress ahead of team name announcement

      From the Wichita Linemen to the Doo Dah's, even the River Riders, Wichita's new Triple-A baseball team has kept the city on its toes with name after name. So far, not one has stuck. "We've tried to be really good listeners to the community and what we wanted to do is choose something that you're going to be proud to wear," says Team owner, Lou Schwechheimer.  For months, the team's twitter account has released logos and names that might or might not be in the run...

    • Andover city council members voted Tuesday night to move forward with an apartment complex development that caused controversy among nearby residents. 

    • Andrew Finch

      Swatting victim's mother continues to push for change in Wichita amid lawsuit

      "There is not a single day that goes by I don't think of my son and granddaughter," Lisa Finch told the Wichita City Council Tuesday morning.  "All the while screaming inside that they didn't have to die." 

    • Wellington couple donates $1.6 million to K-State

      The estate of a Wellington couple donated $1.6 million to establish scholarships for students in Kansas State's College of Business Administration. 

    • MISSING IN KANSAS: Karley Maier missing again

      It’s been months since a teen was last seen in south-central Kansas. 

    • Google street view

      Fast food cashier and manager fired for refusing to serve police officer

      Two fast food employees have been fired after one of them refused to serve a police officer who wanted to order food from the establishment. The incident occurred at the Cook Out restaurant in Roxboro, North Carolina when Kenneth Horton, an army vet and veteran police officer, visited the chain restaurant and was denied service by the cashier. "We're saddened that an employee denied service to a police officer. We promote unity. The public here knows that. And, unfortunately, t...