THE HEARTBROKEN family of a ‘much-loved’ Olton woman have spoken out about their daughter’s brave battle with Type One diabetes in a bid to help raise awareness of the incurable disease.
Melissa Brown died on May 6 in hospital just four days before her 25th birthday after going into cardiac arrest.
She also developed hypoxia as her body was deprived of oxygen for so long when her heart stopped beating.
Her family set up a Just Giving website in her memory and have told the devastating effects Type One diabetes can have if it’s not carefully managed.
Melissa was diagnosed when she was just 15-years-old.
Her family said: “This was at a time in her life when she didn’t want to deal with it.
“It was a time in her life where she wanted to have fun, with no responsibilities.
“She didn’t want to check levels at school, she didn’t want to deal with it.
“All she wanted was to be like everybody else.”
When the former St Peters Catholic school pupil was 18 she was diagnosed with neuropathy, a nerve degeneration complication of diabetes that affected her heart, eyes, bowel, stomach and legs.
The pain caused was often so bad that Melissa would fall asleep from exhaustion but even then she would get three or four hours sleep.
As life became more manageable for Melissa she was able to get her life on track and qualified as a phlebotomist.
But then in November 2016 she stopped breathing in her sleep.
When she didn’t wake up Melissa was rushed to Solihull Hospital by paramedics and diagnosed with double pneumonia and sepsis.
She spent ten days on a ventilator and three weeks in hospital before going home.
In the early hours of May 2, just a day after she had been clothes shopping with her mum, Melissa stopped breathing again and went into cardiac arrest.
Her mum and professionals got her heart started again, however, there were other side effects which lead the family to making a difficult decision.
Her family said: “We were told that she was brain dead and she would never have survived so we had to make the devastating decision to turn off the life support.
“She was the strongest of us all, we were so proud. She was too.
“We are all so lost without Melissa.
“How can she not be here in our lives, this will never feel real to us.
“Many people don’t know how much Type One can devastate families or hurt the ones we love if it is not carefully managed.
“The purpose of sharing Melissa’s story is to make people aware of diabetes, it’s a terrible illness that doesn’t get enough recognition.”
So far the family have raised more than £2,200 on the Just Giving website for Diabetes UK.
There will be a fundraising event in Melissa’s memory on July 22 and a team of her family members are set to complete a ten-mile walk in London for diabetes in October.
For more or to donate visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/melissabrown10592