Husband builds 'safe haven' for wife who is allergic to him and almost everything else

Johanna Watkins suffers from an extremely rare condition that makes her allergic to most things in her day-to-day life, including the scent of her husband.
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The story of Scott and Johanna Watkins has been shared around the world, and the Minneapolis couple's fight against a rare condition afflicting Johanna took its latest turn this month.

FOX 9 first reported in November how Johanna suffers from mast cell activation syndrome, a rare condition that according to their GoFundMe page causes her to develop life-threatening anaphylactic reactions to "just about anything" including many foods, chemicals, the outdoors and dust.

As of last year, that included her husband, as she developed allergies to body odors from everyone apart from her siblings. It's forced them to live separately ever since, barely hugging for fear it would trigger a reaction.

The couple are being assisted by Dr. Lawrence Afrin of the University of Minnesota, who is one of the leading experts on the diseases, but various medications and even four-rounds of chemotherapy have not proved successful.

The couple launched a GoFundMe campaign last year after being approved for a mortgage loan, as they needed to raise more money to turn their future home into a "safe haven" where Johanna can live in as much comfort as possible.

They managed to raise more than $126,000 after their story went global, with Scott spending the past year upgrading the home to create an apartment for himself upstairs and Johanna's haven downstairs.

The pair are now separated by an airlock in their new south Minneapolis home after moving in earlier this month. The air in Johanna's deep-cleaned quarters purified using hundreds of filters and windows blocked out to limit sunlight, according to their CaringBridge page.

Rough start

But it's been a rocky start to life in their new home. Scott writes he carried Johanna into the safe space when they first arrived, where her family was waiting, only for her to immediately faint due to the smell from the updated plumbing they installed.

The smell has made her bedroom inhospitable, so she's sleeping on the couch in the living room. It's also making her so sick, she needs round the clock care from her siblings and help walking to the bathroom, Scott wrote on the CaringBridge page.

"To adapt Johanna has stopped breathing through her nose. It only helps slightly. At night she also breathes through her mouth, a skill that you might not think possible, but would believe when you know the pain Johanna experiences when triggered by a scent."

FOX describes Scott's efforts to help his wife in recent months as his "labor of love" and on the CaringBridge page he admits there is still much to do to help his wife. Scott writes they're in "survival mode" and are asking for prayers of comfort, encouragement and to heal Johanna.

You can read more about their journey here.

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