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'I don't know when I'll go blind' - mum launches appeal to save sight

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Mother-of-one Heidi Kennedy has been left with 10pc vision

Mother-of-one Heidi Kennedy has been left with 10pc vision

Mother-of-one Heidi Kennedy has been left with 10pc vision

A mum-of-one who has gone nearly blind from a rare disease is appealing for help to save what is left of her sight.

Hotel porter Heidi Kennedy (35), from Laois, was driving home to visit her parents in 2011 when everything suddenly went black and she had to pull in to the side of the road.

She was rushed to the Royal Victoria Eye and Ear Hospital in Dublin, where it was found she was bleeding into the back of her eyes, causing the loss of vision.

Her condition continued to deteriorate, and in 2012 she was referred to specialist Professor Dara Kilmartin, who found a massive clot in her left eye caused by all the haemorrhages.

The only option to save it was to undergo a seven-hour operation, with only a 50/50 chance it would work.

Surgeons deemed it a huge success at the time, but Heidi had to spend nine months in a "face doughnut" to get the eye back into position.

It was a long road to recovery, which she said was "extremely tough" but she had some "incredible support".

"After the nine months I was brought back to the hospital for the review and I had got devastating news that nobody wants to hear. I was diagnosed with a very rare eye disease," Heidi said.

"This disease involves the growing of vessels into the eyes, and when too many grow they burst and bleed and cause massive haemorrhages.

Cure

"I got injections every four weeks into my eyes, whether it was the left or right, to try and stop the bleeds but nothing worked long-term."

Despite undergoing tests, Heidi, who has only 10pc vision, has been told there is no known cure for her disease, which is so rare it has no name.

She said life is becoming a "real struggle", and having to postpone her wedding that was planned for the end of this month was a huge setback.

"When I look at my loved ones - my parents, my two-year-old son, my fiance Michael, all I can see is blackness on their faces and they look very different to me," she said.

Even looking at a TV screen or a smartphone is difficult as her eyes have become so sensitive to light.

"Going outside is a struggle as the light hurts my eyes and causes them to nearly fully close, even with the help of sunglasses. I'm in dire pain the whole time," Heidi said.

"With this disease, I don't know when I'm going to become blind and I don't know when I will never see my loved ones ever again."

Her only hope of saving her sight is to go abroad, and she is looking at Moorfields Eye Hospital in London and the Vista Private Clinic in Spain.

However, the treatment will cost thousands of euro.

Heidi said that time is also of the essence, given the degenerative nature of her condition.

Her fiance Michael Smyth and dad Patrick have set up an online fundraiser to try to help.

Donations can be made at gofundme.com/f/save-and-bring-back-my-sight