Great Britain

Towie’s Kelsey Stratford breaks down in tears as she discusses baby brother’s death and sister’s life-limiting disease

TOWIE'S Kelsey Stratford broke down in tears as she opened up about her brother Karter's tragic death at just four months old in tonight's episode of the show.

The 18-year-old star also spoke about his twin sister's life-limiting disease, explaining that doctors didn't think the now-eight-year-old would live past the age of 18 months.

The twins, Karter and Kennedy, were born with Spinal Muscular Atrophy, a genetic condition that makes the muscles weak and causes problems with movement - worsening over time.

The blonde beauty shared her secret family heartache with Clelia Theodorou as she explained why she was moving out of her family home to live with Ella Wise after spending several years caring for her sister.

Kelsey emotionally said: "It is a big thing for me to move out because my home life is a bit traumatic, do you know about my little sister?

"She's got a disease called SMA, it paralyses her from the neck down but her brain is completely normal.

"She's eight but the doctors did tell us she would only live up to 18 months old, she needs 24 hour care. Since I was 12 I have basically cared for her, helped my mum."

Recent months have been particularly hard for Kelsey's family, with Kennedy considered vulnerable amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

She continued: "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.

"I did have a little brother who had the same disease as well but he passed away at four months."

Kelsey then began to sob as Ella heaped praise on her and her mum for having "hearts of gold".

As she cried, the reality TV star explained: "I never talk about it ever, but I think it would be good for [me] to move out and have my own life."

Clelia reassured Kelsey that she was doing the right thing as Kelsey said that her mum wanted her to live life for herself.

Earlier this evening, Kelsey took to her Instagram page to share a photo of herself with her sister on her 8th birthday.

The star also posted a picture of her two siblings as babies, before her brother's passing.

She captioned the post: "In tonight’s episode of @towie I talk about my inspirational twin brother & sister Karter & Kennedy and the condition that they were sadly born with, which is called Spinal Muscular Atrophy.

"Kennedy was only given a few months to live when she was born so you can imagine how proud we are of her as a family this weekend as she celebrated her eighth birthday!

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:

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.

"I’m supporting the charity Spinal Muscular Atrophy UK and in particular will be supporting their Christmas appeal – which I can’t wait to share with you all!"

Kelsey was inundated with supportive messages from fans as well as her Towie co-stars, with Pete Wicks commenting a heart emoji.

Ella wrote: "Love you ❤️ so cute! Love you all so much x"

Yazmin Oukhellou and Clelia also shared strings of heart emojis.

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