Towie's Kelsey Stratford's heartache as she's trolled over disabled sister, 8, as she battles Covid in intensive care
TOWIE'S Kelsey Stratford has bravely opened up about her sister's battle with spinal muscular atrophy as her sister "fights hard" against Covid.
The reality star, 19, shared her heartache after her eight-year-old sister Kennedy was rushed to intensive care with coronavirus last week.
The TV beauty wants to raise awareness about the muscle-wasting condition as her sister continues to "fight hard" against "evil" Covid after contracting sepsis.
The star recently updated fans from her hospital bed, saying: "Love this little girl too much, she is really going through it but fighting through it like she always does. We love you."
Speaking to exclusively to The Sun, Kelsey said that the family had tried everything to protect her sister from Covid.
She said: "In the first lockdown I had to move out because I had to keep going in and out of the house, I moved to my nan’s and didn’t see her for three months.
"It’s definitely affected me and my family, my mum or my stepdad had to be home with Kennedy because she can't be left alone. My mum hasn't left the house since the first lockdown just in case Kennedy caught anything."
In September, Kelsey broke down in tears as she opened up about her sister's illness on The Only Way Is Essex – also revealing that Kennedy's twin brother Karter died from the disease when he was just four months old.
Kelsey said: "I’ve got such good feedback and I feel proud when I see families going through the same thing message me and say how happy they are that I’ve done this and that finally someone is speaking about SMA."
"Everyone from the show always messages me and says to give your sister a big kiss from them."
Kelsey praised her sister for being a brave little girl, she said:"She can communicate, you understand her when you’re around her a lot more, and she’s so funny."
The reality beauty has also hit back at cruel trolls saying: "I do get some means ones but I literally just block them and ignore them.
"Well it’s normally someone on a fake account, it must be a weird person anyway to make fake accounts to do something like that. So I don’t give them the time or day to reply to them, they must be so upset in their own life to do stuff like that."
Kennedy already struggles with her breathing due to life-limiting disease Spinal Muscular Atrophy.
The Towie star warned Covid "isn't anything like the flu" and it "picks on all parts of the body".
Posting on Instagram, Kelsey wrote: "I have now seen Covid first hand. It comes in waves. It picks on all parts of the body and at different times to surprise you. It makes you think you are better then hits you again."
"It isn't anything like the flu. It's evil and calculated and a murderer for children like Kennedy. It's quite unbelievable."
While her sister bravely fought Covid in intensive care Kelsey said, "she is holding her own and fighting hard with tremendous spirit. I am in orr [sic] of my girl. My hero. My life!"
Kelsey also thanked her fans at this "heartbreaking: time, and praised her sister as "such a fighter who will pull through this".
The star opened up about the day the discovered that her sister had SMA and explained that they had never heard of it because it was such a rare condition.
She said: "Kennedy is paralysed from their neck down but their brain is perfectly normal that’s the upsetting part, my little sisters brain is perfectly normal but she’s just in a paralysed body."
The Towie beauty will be doing a Christmas charity jumper day to raise money for SMA UK on 11th December.
She said: "The charity SMA UK is really good for families that get told their child’s born with SMA.
"I’m a strong person, I try not to think about it and try and block it out of my mind, sometimes I do get upset when I realise she isn’t going to live forever, she’s terminal but I try not to think about it as much as I can.
"I’m so used to it now so for me it’s just looking after my little sister but for other people it would be called caring but for me it’s just looking after my little sister."
What is spinal muscular atrophy?
SPINAL muscular atrophy, also known as SMA, is a genetic condition with several types that affects different ages.
In a majority of cases, a child can only be born with SMA if both parents have a faulty gene that causes it – with around 1 in every 40 to 60 people a carrier.
Even if both parents have the gene, there is a 50% chance the child won't have SMA but be a carrier, and a 25% chance that they will have the disease.
It is a serious condition that worsens over time, but treatment can help to manage symptoms.
The most severe type of SMA is type 1, which develops in babies less than six months old.
Type 2 impacts babies aged 7-18 months and is less severe, with the third type the least severe in children and affecting those 18 months or older.
Type 4 affects adults, but only usually causes mild problems.
Symptoms depend on what type you have, but include:
- Floppy or weak arms and legs
- Difficulty with movement, such as sitting up, crawling, or walking
- Twitching or shaking muscles
- Bone and joint problems, which can include scoliosis
- Difficulty breathing
- Issues with swallowing
SMA does not impact intelligence or cause learning disabilities, but it can be life-limiting for children.
Babies diagnosed with type 1 rarely survive past the first few years of their life.
Type 2 usually survive into adulthood and can live fulfilling lives, with types 3 and 4 having no impact on life expectancy.
SMA can't be cured but treatment can manage symptoms, including exercises, specialist equipment, feeding tubes, and surgery for joint or bone problems.
Kelsey is working closely with SMA UK to help raise awareness more than everfollowing her sister's Covid battle.
Catherine Woodhead, CEO of Muscular Dystrophy UK, said: “We are working hard to ensure that people living with SMA and with other muscle-wasting conditions have as much information as possible about Covid-19 and are fighting to ensure that there is adequate support in place for those who need it.
"Everyone at MDUK is very sorry to hear the sad news that Kennedy has caught Covid-19, and we wish her a speedy recovery. "
Fans can support Kelsey’s campaign by donating online to her fundraising page.
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