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Public helping to save sight of young mum


Heidi Kennedy from Donard who is losing her sight

Heidi Kennedy from Donard who is losing her sight

Heidi Kennedy from Donard who is losing her sight

A Donard mother of one who is losing her sight has launched a fundraising campaign to help pay for treatment which may help to save her sight.

Mother of one, Heidi Kennedy (35), was diagnosed with a rare eye condition ten years ago which is causing her to lose her sight. Heidi's father, Pat Kennedy, is hoping that the campaign will help to save what is left of his daughter's sight.

Mr Kennedy said Heidi has around '10 per cent vision in both eyes. The right eye is the worse one and the other is on the way and not a hope in sight'.

In 2011, Heidi was driving home to visit her parents when she was first affected by the condition.

'She was coming along the road in a car and all of a sudden, everything went grey. There was no colour left in her eyes. So she panicked, pulled the car over and rang us,' Mr Kennedy said.

Heidi was rushed to the Royal Victoria Eye and Ear Hospital in Dublin and after tests, it was determined that vessels at the back of Heidi's eyes were bleeding. In 2012, an operation was carried out to remove a blood clot in Heidi's left eye and help to restore her sight. It took several months for Heidi to recover from the operation according to her father. While the operation was initially a success, her sight began to deteriorate again.

The rare condition involves the growth of blood vessels into the eyes and when too many vessels grow, they burst and bleed causing massive haemorrhages into the backs of the eyes which causes a visual impairment.

The now 35-year-old was treated with injections into her eyes every four weeks in an attempt to stop the bleeding, but unfortunately this treatment has not been successful.

Two years ago, Mr Kennedy said the family received the news that Heidi was losing the sight in her right eye.

'The doctor told her the right eye is dying, coming to the end of its life and she was going blind. She was roaring, we all were.'

In recent weeks, Heidi was told by her consultant that the vision in her left eye was also deteriorating.

'They told her the bad news two to three weeks ago, that the left eye is going as bad as the right. She said "what does that mean?" The doctor replied, "Heidi, you are about to get plunged into darkness and I can't stop it. If I could, I would." He told her "I can't operate because the bleeding is not clotting. If I open up and go into an eye that's bleeding,  there's no end to the damage could be caused."'

While there are no other treatments available in Ireland which may help the now 35-year-old, there are clinics in London and Spain which may be able to help save what's left of Heidi's sight.

'They can't tell us if they can cure her or not. All they can say is we'll bring her over for a week or two for tests. Only then will they decide, but the expense to get over there the first time, none of us have it.'

Heidi had been due to marry her fiancé in June, however, their big day was postponed due to Covid-19.

The family have set up a GoFundMe page to raise funds to help with the costs of travelling abroad and have so far raised over €4,000.

'She said she looks at my face or her mother's face, she only knows who we are when we speak. We look like wobbly jelly like she's looking through water bubbles. Everything looks wobbly to her, the next day the vision might improve a little bit, but then there are other days when she can't see nothing...the light in the house hurts her. The sunlight kills her.'

For more information about the campaign, log onto https://ie.gofundme.com/f/save-and-bring-back-my-sight.

Wicklow People