May 9, 2021

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Girl, 8, who fought Covid for 3 weeks in intensive care saved by ‘amazing’ NHS staff

A dad whose eight-year-old daughter fought Covid in intensive care has lauded the ‘amazing’ NHS medics who saved her life.

Paul Mercer and wife Jeanette watched daughter Kennedy spend three weeks in intensive care fighting for her life.

Medics – many staying away from their own families – battled to save Kennedy’s life at Great Ormond Street in London.

Kennedy, sister of TOWIE star Kelsey Stratford, has a rare condition called Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) which makes her particularly vulnerable to coronavirus.

Paul, 42, told The Mirror she would not have survived without the care she received.

He was stunned by the Government’s recent one per cent pay rise offer, which has sparked widespread condemnation, feeling it did not properly reward the NHS medics.

He said: “It’s an insult.



Dad Paul Mercer with daughter Kennedy, who has Type 1 SMA

“They do an amazing job at the best of times, in a global pandemic they’re putting their lives on the line.

“A lot of people, including Kennedy, wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the support of NHS staff. If there was any industry that has shown they deserve a pay rise, the NHS has done it the hard way.”

Kennedy, whose twin brother Karter died from Type 1 SMA at just five months old, was admitted to hospital in October after falling ill.

Medics were unable to tell Paul if his daughter would survive as the virus ripped through her body.



Kennedy in a hospital bed as she battled coronavirus
Kennedy was treated at Great Ormond Street Hospital after contracting coronavirus

“They were in an airtight room with someone who had this deadly virus, the commitment they showed was amazing,” Paul said.

“They not only kept her alive, but they supported me too. These guys must have been shattered, they were doing 12 hour shifts and moving between days and nights.

“To be able to keep the focus and enthusiasm to save lives and also offer the mental support to families is incredible.

“We owe them everything in my view, they’re all heroes, and their sacrifices should be rewarded.”



TOWIE star Kelsey Stratford with Kennedy, who has Type 1 SMA
TOWIE star Kelsey Stratford with Kennedy, who has Type 1 SMA

When he heard that the government was offering a one per cent pay rise to the doctors and nurses who had supported the family through the ordeal, Paul said he could not believe it.

“I just couldn’t believe what I was hearing,” he said.

“There was an expectation they would be properly rewarded. The Prime Minister personally had been treated as well as members of the cabinet and their families.

“You’d have thought that would have shown them how hard it is.

“It shouldn’t just be about emotion, but emotion should be part of the story.”



Jeanette Mercer with daughter Kennedy, who nearly died after contracting coronavirus
Jeanette Mercer with daughter Kennedy, who nearly died after contracting coronavirus

Describing Kennedy’s battle, he said: “We didn’t know if she was going to make it.

“She went through a torrid time, it literally impacted her whole body. It was awful to watch.

“The doctors told us they were changing the antibiotics they were giving her, and that it needed to work because there was nothing else they could do.”

In spite of her family making huge efforts to shield Kennedy – including taking weekly tests and separating her from five-year-old sister Marli, who returned to school in the summer – she became ill in late October.

Her temperature soared, and she developed pneumonia and sepsis.



Twins Karter and Kennedy Mercer, who were both diagnosed with Type 1 SMA soon after their birth

As her condition worsened, medics told the family to prepare for the worst.

During their anxious wait at Kennedy’s bedside at London’s Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH), Paul said there were many other children who were seriously ill with Covid.

During Kennedy’s fight for life, TOWIE star Kelsey posted on Instagram : “We are all so heartbroken as Kennedy has severe breathing problems from her terminal illness SMA as it is.

“So this is very dangerous for her.”



Boris Johnson holds a Covid-19 news conference at 10 Downing Street on March 8, 2021
Boris Johnson has claimed a one per cent pay rise is all the country can afford

Kelsey’s post continued: “She is in intensive care but really fighting like she always does, so i just need everyone to keep her in your prayers and hopefully she gets through this my strong little girl she doesn’t deserve any of this.”

Harrowing pictures show the little girl fighting for life as her temperature soared past 104F, when course after course of drugs failed to make an impact.

The Prime Minister has faced calls to increase the pay offer for NHS staff after insisting one per cent is all No 10 can “afford”.


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Labour leader Keir Starmer said: “He’s had the ­opportunity to change course, but he’s refused.”

Campaign group EveryDoctor founder Dr Julia Patterson added: “NHS staff are disappointed, tired and angered by the ­Government’s derisory and insulting offer of just 1%.

“It’s ­scandalous after health service staff have suffered massive real terms pay cuts since 2010.”