THE heartbroken family of a teenager who tragically died from undiagnosed type 1 diabetes are campaigning to raise awareness of the “silent killer”.
Just months after finishing her GCSEs, 16-year-old Jenny Kitching began complaining of a stomach ache and tiredness.
Days later, the Halsall teenager slipped into a coma, and after two weeks in intensive care she passed away on September 18 last year.
Now her parents Amanda and David, cousin Selina and family and friends want to raise awareness of the condition to help others. Her parents released a heartfelt tribute to Jenny that said: Š“‘Jenny Wren’ was our life and soul, she is beautiful inside and out, and is missed every second of each day.”Š
Selina told how the family had no idea there was anything wrong with Jenny in the days before the Ormskirk School pupil fell ill.
She said: “Jenny went from being fine on the Wednesday to being in a coma on the Friday. She had lost a bit of weight but we knew she was dieting and she had been a bit stressed with her exams so it seemed normal. She was just blossoming into a beautiful young lady with her whole life ahead of her.”
The former Halsall St Cuthbert’s pupil started feeling ill and tired on Wednesday August 31 last year, and when she was no better the next day her parents called the doctor. They were told it was likely to be a virus that was going round the schools and to give her plenty of fluids.
As she was tired they gave her some sugared water for energy, but it only made her worse. The next day her condition deteriorated, and her concerned family called an ambulance. While they waited for it to arrive she became unresponsive and her fingers turned blue.
Selina said: “When she reached the hospital doctors tested her blood glucose level to check for diabetes. It was 52mm – the normal level is around 4.7mm.”
Jenny was put on life support and hooked up to a kidney dialysis machine. She began showing signs of improvement on September 18 – long enough for her to be shown the exam results in the paper she had been so looking forward to seeing.
But just hours later, her condition worsened and she died.
Selina said: “Both myself and my mum are qualified nurses and not once did we suspect type 1 diabetes. We want to raise awareness because if one life can be saved from this silent killer it's better than one life being lost.
“No family should go through the pain we have. I couldn’t have wished for a more beautiful and clever cousin than my little Jen Jen.”
One of Jenny’s closest friends Jess Draper spoke of how important it was to support the awareness campaign in tribute to the model student, who had achieved an A*, five As, five Bs and a C in her GCSEs as well as the school History prize.
She said: “We were all in complete shock at what happened. She was such a strong person and so driven. We’ve done things at school for her, such as a non-uniform day for a memory tree on the school grounds. We’ll also be helping out on the charity night. Jenny was always by my side when she was alive and its important to show we’re still by her side by raising awareness to help others.”
John Doyle, head teacher at Ormskirk School, said: “Jenny’s peers and teachers still miss her. What her parents have suffered is dreadful. “Anything that can be done to raise funds to stop anyone else suffering the way that they are is so worthwhile and I endorse it whole-heartedly.”
As part of the campaign, Selina is organising a charity event for her 30th birthday at Scarisbrick Village Hall on Saturday May 19 in Jenny’s name, to raise funds for type 1 diabetes charity JDRF. There are 120 tickets at £10 each. Visit http://on.fb.me/Hcia5X for more information.