TOWIE star Kelsey Stratford's eight-year-old sister Kennedy nearly died from coronavirus, her dad has revealed.

The youngster, who has life-limiting disease Spinal Muscular Atrophy, was discharged from hospital in November.

Her family had been racked with worry as Kennedy fought for her life in intensive care. Her condition already compromises her respiratory system, and the family were told to prepare for the worst.

Now dad Paul has spoken of the ordeal, telling the Mirror: "We didn't know if she was going to make it.

"She went through a torrid time, it literally impacted her whole body. It was awful to watch.

"The doctors told us they were changing the antibiotics they were giving her, and that it needed to work because there was nothing else they could do."

Before she was deemed well enough to be discharged, Kennedy's temperature reached a dangerous 104F, and she had swollen kidneys.

A scan next month will tell if there is any remaining damage from the virus.

Big sister Kelsey previously shared her heartache over Kennedy's condition.

The 19-year-old announced the family's devastating news on Instagram, telling followers that her entire family had been left "heartbroken".

Sharing a photo of Kennedy laying in her hospital bed with breathing tubes, Kelsey wrote: "As you can imagine me and my family are all heartbroken because yesterday Kennedy got rushed into hospital and got tested positive for Covid-19.

"She is really fighting but she has severe breathing problems as it is so I can only imagine how hard it is for her now.

"She is in intensive care."

The Essex beauty also shared a series of photos of her younger sibling, writing: "Life is so cruel 😔 My little sister Kennedy got rushed into hospital yesterday and tested positive for COVID19, we are all so heartbroken as kennedy has severe breathing problems from her terminal illness SMA as it is.

"So this is very dangerous for her. Kennedy was high risk to covid & we tried our best to shield her from this terrible virus but unfortunately because of her low immune system she caught it.

"She is in intensive care but really fighting like she always does, so i just need everyone to keep her in your prayers and hopefully she gets through this my strong little girl she doesn’t deserve any of this💖😢"

She added to a separate photo of her sister in hospital: "I'm sorry my little baby, you can do this."


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.

Doctors initially warned Kennedy's family that she was unlikely to live past 18 months, with the strong little girl proving the professionals wrong.

Kelsey said of her sister at the time: "She's got a disease called SMA, it paralyses her from the neck down but her brain is completely normal."

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 detailed the extreme lengths the family went through in a desperate bid to protect Kennedy from coronavirus, with them not leaving the house for months.

The star explained: "In lockdown it was really hard for us, for three months I couldn't leave the front door – I still haven't even kissed her, it's been six months. It's scary."

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