Chloe was born a perfectly happy and healthy baby until she reached 2 and a half. After contracting an unknown virus, she was quickly diagnosed with Transverse myelitis, an extremely rare and devastating condition which affects the spinal cord, and given just two weeks to live. Chloe is one of seven people in this country to live with the condition.
Now aged 19, Chloe has continued to defy doctors’ expectations; with the support of her family, friends and The Donna Louise, she has grown into thriving and independent young adult. Despite being paralysed from the neck downwards, Chloe recently made the brave and exciting decision to leave home, as many other 19 year-olds do.
Chloe speaks honestly and positively about her condition “I don’t see my condition as changing who I am. I don’t feel any different to anyone else my age.”
In August 2017, Chloe moved out of her family home, leaving behind mum, step dad and 5 brothers and sisters, to begin a new and independent life in her new flat.
She comments, “It was strange at first – I miss having my family around but I like having my independence. It’s just amazing – I can do whatever I want to do, eat what I want and go out when I want to. My mum and step dad come and visit and my friends come round every day.”
Chloe had always thought about being able to live on her own one day but never thought that it would be possible; Adult Social Worker at The Donna Louise, Linda McNee, was able to step in and help. She said “I’d always talked about moving out; The Donna Louise gave me the confidence to do it. Linda helped me sort everything out; she did lots of research and asked other social workers how to do it. She helped me with the applications for the flat and a car.
Chloe also talks about what coming to The Donna Louise has done for her, “Coming to The Donna Louise has made my confidence much better and it has enabled me to be myself. I don’t know what I would do if The Donna Louise wasn’t there any more – there’s always someone there to talk to and they’ve helped my family a lot.”
Extending the services of The Donna Louise beyond the age of 19 means that Chloe will be able to continue accessing support. The new building will be a place where she can enjoy time with her friends: “I am extremely excited – I can’t wait for it to open. It’ll be nice to have sleepovers with my friends. I met my best friend, Charlotte, at The Donna Louise.”
Living in her own flat, the future for Chloe is bright as she enjoys life as an independent young adult. With Christmas around the corner, she is already planning Christmas shopping trips in Birmingham and Manchester, a trip to the pantomime and Christmas day with her family.
Chloe concludes, “I don’t think I would have been able to do it without the help and support from The Donna Louise. It’s amazing and it’s so friendly. It’s so good that I haven’t got any words!”