THE mum of a teenager who died following a lengthy battle against a heart problem has spoken of her pride in her ‘unique’ daughter.
Kammecka Howard, 19, passed away at Royal Blackburn Hospital following a five-year fight against Wolff-Parkinson-White (WPW) syndrome, which causes the heart to beat abnormally fast.
Her mum Kelly said: “I’m lost without her. Words can’t express how empty I feel. She was big part of my life and was given to me for a reason.
“She was my soulmate and my best friend - she was the reason I breathe.”
Kammecka, who lived with her mum and 16-year-old sister Kira in Meadoway, Church, was diagnosed with WPW when she was 13.
The condition, which is present at birth, causes the heart to suddenly start racing before stopping or slowing down suddenly, and episodes can last for seconds, or days.
Kelly said: “Kammecka had been getting palpitations, she said they were like butterflies in her chest.
“We were back and forth with the doctors and they sent her to Alder Hey and they said she had it.
“It was a shock but I said that’s what life has given us. I kept saying, ‘there’s always people worse off than you’. With me having the same sentiment as her, we fought it every day. We managed, and we coped.”
The former Woodnook Primary School and Accrington Academy pupil went on to be further diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a heart disease which causes the heart’s muscle wall to thicken, ventricular tachycardia, a life-threatening type of rapid heart beat, and severe left ventricular dysfunction.
The teen had several operations to try and fix the problems at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital and Royal Liverpool Heart and Chest Hospital, but they failed.
A pacemaker fitted two years ago was removed in January because it wasn’t working, Kelly said.
Despite her woes, Kammecka refused to let her problems control her life. She was known for being naturally funny, and blasting out hits from McFly and The Wanted, both bands she saw play live.
Her mum said she enjoyed watching Jeremy Kyle and laughing along to Mrs Brown’s Boys, and would often dress in her favourite onesie and woolly socks.
Kammecka was admitted to Royal Blackburn Hospital on Friday, August 8, after falling ill.
Kelly, who kept a bedside vigil during her daughter’s final days, said: “I never left her side for one minute. We saw her deteriorate. Her heart was so enlarged, her body was not able to cope. Her heart was just leaking blood.”
Kammecka died in hospital six days later.
“It was the left branch of her heart that failed her,” Kelly said. “Kira now has to have tests to see if she has the same condition.”
Kammecka, who worked at Home Bargains in Accrington for a short period earlier this year, was described as ‘unique’ by her mum ahead of her funeral tomorrow (Wednesday).
She said: “She was so family orientated. It was us against the world and it always has been. She was my inspiration. We are trying to have a beautiful day on Wednesday because I want to feel even prouder for being her mum.
“We have asked everybody to wear colours, we are letting balloons off, and we have a pink coffin for Kammecka. I want to celebrate having 19 years with her.
“There was no stopping her. She loved life and everything about it. I have got the most amazing network of friends I could ask for. They have been my rock.”
A funeral service will be held at Accrington Crematorium at 3pm on Wednesday.
Donations to the British Heart Foundation, c/o Champ Funeral Services, in Clayton-le-Moors, are being welcomed.
Panel Symptoms of Wolff-Parkinson-White (WPW) syndrome include chest pain, palpitations and difficulty breathing.
Because the heart pumps so fast, it does not have time to relax and fill with blood between contractions, which causes shortness of breath and dizziness, and sufferers to feel light-headed and faint.
The syndrome can cause heart rates to reach as high was 230 beats per minute, compared to between 60 and 100 in adults without the condition.
In many cases, episodes of abnormal heart activity associated with WPW syndrome are harmless, don't last long and settle down on their own without treatment.
But for more severe cases the most effective long-term treatment for WPW syndrome is a keyhole surgical procedure called catheter ablation.
However this is not always successful or suitable for all patients.