Kelsey Stratford is terrified as her sister fights coronavirus and sepsis in intensive care – with her family unable to visit.
The TOWIE star, 19, said doctors at London’s Great Ormond Street hospital are ‘doing everything they can’ for Kennedy, eight, who has terminal condition Spinal Muscular Atrophy.
In an interview with MailOnline, Kelsey spoke of her longing for Kennedy to make a full recovery, as living at her family home without her sibling is unbearable.
‘We all don’t know what’s going to happen’: Kelsey Stratford is terrified as her sister fights coronavirus and sepsis in an intensive care unit – with her family unable to visit
Kelsey explained that Kennedy’s condition weakens her immune system and she’s spent every winter in intensive care after catching colds and on worse occasions, pneumonia.
After contracting coronavirus, Kelsey fears the worst for her sister, as she’s one of the first SMA type 1 patients to fall ill with the disease and now has sepsis.
She said: ‘I am positive she will beat it but it’s never happened before to an SMA type 1 patient, they have never caught something like this so we all don’t know what’s going to happen.
‘Kennedy has been in intensive care every winter, her entire life. But she is really struggling with Covid. We’re heartbroken.
‘She is in the best place’; The TOWIE star said doctors at Great Ormond Street hospital are ‘doing everything they can’ for Kennedy, who has terminal condition Spinal Muscular Atrophy
‘She is in the best place, she is in Great Ormond Street intensive care and my stepdad is doing a really good job helping her with her treatment and I know how strong Kennedy is.
‘Now she has sepsis, it makes it a lot more serious because she has that on top of Covid, which was terrible anyway. It’s really not good at the moment but the doctors are doing everything they can.’
The hardest part for Kelsey is the guilt of leaving Kennedy on her own in hospital as she knows her sister will be missing the family, which extends to her mum, stepdad and six other brothers and sisters.
She added: ‘That’s what makes this harder, I feel like she’s on her own.
‘It is so quiet without her’: In an interview with MailOnline, Kelsey spoke of her longing for Kennedy to make a full recovery, as living at her family home without her sibling is unbearable
‘No one else can go in and see her because she’s in intensive care and because of Covid. It is so quiet without her because when she’s here all she does is boss us about and she’s so loud, she’s always singing.
‘It’s really quiet without her. She has my stepdad who’s been able to visit but I know she would love to see all of us.
What is Spinal Muscular Atrophy?
Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) is a disease that weakens a patient’s strength by affecting the motor nerve cells in the spinal cord.
It results in gradual muscle wasting and the severity of symptoms varies by type.
Type 1: SMA is the most severe and is evident at birth. The weakening of muscles means sufferers cannot sit and usually leads to death by the age of five
Type 2: Is intermediate with the sufferer being unable to stand
Type 3: Is mild and makes it difficult to get up from a sitting position, while
Type 4: Sufferers don’t have symptoms until they are in their 20s or 30s
‘My mum and I FaceTime her but when I speak to her I can tell she’s not really talkative, normally she’s so full of life and funny but I’ll say things to her and she doesn’t really reply. That’s because she’s in discomfort and very ill.
‘She’s been sleeping a lot but we do try to cheer her up. I just want her to come home. She’s not getting better so it could be a while yet but hopefully before Christmas.’
Kelsey, who found fame on TOWIE in 2019, was forced to move out of her family home so she could continue working this year, while sister Kennedy shielded from the virus.
‘She would love to see all of us’: The hardest part for Kelsey is the guilt of leaving Kennedy on her own in hospital as she knows her sister will be missing the family
Despite the family’s careful efforts in protecting vulnerable Kennedy from the disease, she was hospitalised with Covid last week.
‘We did try so hard,’ Kelsey continued.
‘She hasn’t left the house since the first lockdown. I moved out for three months because we were shielding her, no one was coming in or out of the house.
‘For my mum and stepdad, not leaving the house for such a long time has been hard. It drives you crazy. For Kennedy as well, she must have been so bored.
‘But when lockdown was over, we started going to shops, so it she could have caught it from anyone. She has such a low immune system she catches everything.’
‘We did try so hard’: Despite the family’s careful efforts in protecting vulnerable Kennedy from the disease, she was hospitalised with Covid last week and has now fallen ill with sepsis
Kelsey was just 12-years-old when her sister was born and diagnosed with SMA, which is a disease that affects the central nervous system and skeletal muscle movement.
Kennedy had a twin brother Karter, who sadly passed away within a year of being born, when Kelsey was a child.
Kelsey explained: ‘When I was a kid I didn’t really understand what was going on and it became normal to me.
‘Kennedy would be rushed to hospital and stop breathing, as a kid I look back and I’m so upset as I was so young going through all that.
‘I loved it’: On the latest series of TOWIE, Kelsey opened up about the difficulties of being Kennedy’s sister and hosted a Ping-Pong event to raise awareness for SMA
‘It has completely changed my home life because the focus is on Kennedy 24/7 whereas when I was younger, it was on me and we were always going out together as a family. It is hard.’
On the latest series of TOWIE, Kelsey opened up about the difficulties of being Kennedy’s sister and hosted a Ping-Pong event to raise awareness for SMA.
Kennedy even cameoed on an episode, as Kelsey proudly showed co-stars Chloe, Demi and Frankie Sims a video of her sibling.
She said: ‘Before I spoke about my sister on the show, everyone thought I was normal and lived a good life – that’s why you can’t judge a book by its cover.
‘I loved it and she loved it too, she’s a big fan of the show, she watches it every week. She was really happy to be on it. She thinks she’s more famous than me now though!’
Fundraising: In honour of Kennedy, Kelsey has setup a Just Giving page in line with Christmas Jumper Day, which can be found in her Instagram bio
In honour of Kennedy, and to fundraise for other families that continue to fight against SMA, Kelsey has setup a Just Giving page in line with Christmas Jumper Day, which can be found on her Instagram bio or the SMA UK website.
She said: ‘I am doing a Christmas jumper day where I am raising the money for SMA UK.
‘I have a page on my Instagram bio and people can click on that or they can go on the SMA UK charity and donate that way. So far I have raised £800.’
If you’d like to donate to SMA UK, please visit Kelsey’s Just Giving page by clicking here