Sight restored, River Falls girl goes for balloon ride

You’ve probably seen the hot-air balloons flying over the St. Croix River in the early evening and not thought much about it; we see them all the time in the Midwest.

But we’re not Hannah Manche, 17, of River Falls, Wis.

She’s a survivor of Stevens-Johnson syndrome and toxic epidermal necrolysis, a rare condition triggered by an allergy to medication that affects one in 1 million.

In the seventh grade, her body broke in blisters. She lost her skin, hair and nails, faced damage to her organs, and temporarily lost her sight, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports.

When Hannah returned to school in April of her seventh-grade year, she was on a feeding tube, pale, unable to open her eyes and weighed only 63 pounds. She grew self-conscious. She faced bullying, lost friends and felt alone with her thoughts.

When Karla Blomberg, the president of Wishes and More, first met Hannah, she was still in agonizing pain.

Now, years later, Hannah hopes to go to college and become a nurse in a burn unit, caring for others who have gone through the type of pain she endured.

“She wants to help people,” Kathy said. “She doesn’t want her experience to just be something that happened and then she left it behind.”

“I’m really happy it all happened to me. It’s turned me into this person that I would have never been able to become, and I’ve been able to do things for others that I would’ve never been able to do,” she said.

Her sight now restored, on Saturday, visiting Waterford, Wis., south of Milwaukee, she went for a ride. In a hot-air balloon.

  • wjc

    I despair when I hear about kids getting bullied when they are going through an illness. Thanks for the story, Bob!