A Formula One grid girl passed away just two days after her birthday while waiting for a kidney transplant.
Khloe Atkinson, from Norton Heights, Stoke-on-Trent, had been living with type-one diabetes for 10 years without experiencing any symptoms.
But in February she lost the sight in her right eye and a week later was told she had kidney failure, before being put on dialysis.
While waiting for a kidney donor, Ms Atkinson had been at the Royal Stoke University Hospital after being placed in an induced coma in July.
Her heartbroken family said she passed away in her sleep just two days after her 33rd birthday, in the early hours of August 8.
In a social media tribute, the model’s family wrote: ‘We are stunned, we are heartbroken. We will never be the same without her.’
Khloe Atkinson, 32, from Stoke-on-Trent, was diagnosed with diabetes age 21. She passed away in her sleep on August 8
In the tribute shared on social media by her friend Kayleigh Fyfe, Ms Atkinson’s family added: ‘Our darling Khloe passed away peacefully in the early hours of the 8th August, just two days after her 33rd birthday.
‘We would like to thank you all so much for the love and generosity you have expressed for Khloe.
‘She was incredibly touched by your kindness. Thank you.’
Ms Atkinson used to spend her days fire breathing, angle griding and stilt walking in her role as a part-time model.
She has worked on shows such as The Real Housewives of Cheshire and as a grid girl for Honda and Formula One.
Speaking a few weeks ago, she said it was ‘heartbreaking’ not being able to do what she loves most.
Due to coronavirus Ms Atkinson had not been able to have any visitors in hospital.
Her friends Kayleigh Fyfe and Charlie George had been sitting outside her window to keep her company.
Speaking earlier this year, Ms Atkinson revealed her father, brother and grandparents all have diabetes.
She said she suddenly lost her sight one morning when she turned on her computer at work and was unable to read the screen, ‘as if looking through frosted glass’.
She thought she had put her contacts in incorrectly but after an emergency appointment, found out that she had a disease called Macuela Edema.
In the days that followed, her sight rapidly deteriorated and she lost the vision in her right eye before suffering nosebleeds and intense headaches.
In June, Ms Atkinson was anaemic, suffering from high blood pressure and warned she was at risk of a stroke because her heart was under so much strain.
Doctors told her that she had kidney failure and she was in a critical condition, with her kidneys functioning at less than 10 per cent.
The pretty model had been placed in an induced coma in July, before passing away weeks later
Speaking before her latest medical setback, Ms Atkinson said: ‘Diabetes does run in the family – my dad, brother and grandparents all have it. I was diagnosed at the age of 21 and at that age all of my friends were going out partying, drinking cocktails and I didn’t want to miss out.
‘But diabetes is a silent killer and it kills your organs without you knowing. I put my contacts in one morning after going to the gym and my vision was blurred as if I was looking through frosted glass.
‘I just presumed I’d put them in incorrectly, so I went home to get my glasses and then when I put them on my sight didn’t change. After an emergency appointment I was diagnosed with Macular edema and now have no sight in my right eye and partial sight in my left.
‘About a week later I went to the doctors because I had been experiencing intense headaches and nosebleeds. I saw my GP at 10am one morning and at 8.30pm he called to say I had been playing on his mind and he thought I should seek emergency treatment.
‘I went to the hospital and was diagnosed with kidney failure. My kidneys are now functioning at eight per cent and I’ve been put on dialysis until I can find a donor.’
Khloe (pictured with boyfriend Dean Smith) worked on shows such as The Real Housewives of Cheshire and as a grid girl for Honda and Formula One
She added: ‘It’s been really tough and the diagnosis hasn’t quite sunk in.
‘I’m a part-time model and a grid girl and I love it, it’s not like a job. You get to stand looking glamorous, but I don’t feel like that now.
‘It’s heartbreaking, I’ve been a professional dancer since the age of 18 and appeared on different TV shows and now I’ve got a tube hanging out of my belly. It’s frustrating because I’ve always worked.
‘Not being able to have visitors [in hospital] has been hard but my friends come to the window at the hospital and sit outside and talk to me.
‘My boyfriend Dean and my family have also been a big support.’
WHAT IS TYPE-1 DIABETES AND WHY IS IT IMPORTANT FOR PATIENTS TO CONTROL IT?
Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease that causes the insulin producing cells in the pancreas to be destroyed, preventing the body from being able to produce enough insulin to regulate blood glucose levels.
Type 1 diabetes patients are often recommended to test their blood sugar at least four times a day.
If the amount of glucose in the blood is too high, it can, over time, seriously damage the body’s organs, if it is too low in severe circumstances this can lead to patients falling into a coma.
Type-1 is sometimes referred to as juvenile diabetes, but the term regarded as outdated because the condition can develop at any age.
Patients diagnosed with type 1 are treated with insulin and have to monitor their sugar intake.
Blood glucose levels should be between the ranges of 3.5–5.5mmol/L before meals and less than 8mmol/L, two hours after meals.
Low blood sugar levels, Hypoglycemia, (when blood sugar drops below 4 mmol/L) can occasionally lead to patients falling into comas in severe cases.
However, it most often can be treated through eating or drinking 15-20g of fast acting carbohydrate, such 200ml of Lucozade Energy Original.
Sufferers can tell they are experiencing a hypo when they suddenly feel tired, have difficulty concentrating or feel dizzy.
Type 1 diabetes patients are more likely to experience a hypo, because of the medications they take, including insulin.
High blood sugar levels, Hyperglycemia, (when blood sugar is above 11.0 mmol/L two hours after a meal) can also have life-threatening complications.
It happens when the body either has too little insulin, seen in type 1, or it can’t use its supply properly, most often in type 2.
In the short-term, it can lead to conditions including ketoacidosis – which causes ketones to be released into the body.
If left untreated, hyperglycemia can lead to long-term complications, such as impotence and amputations of limbs.
Regular exercise can help to lower blood sugar levels over time, and following a healthy diet and proper meal planning can also avoid dangerous spikes.
Kayleigh, aged 32, said: ‘Khloe is a big bubbly character and to see that deteriorate so fast is quite shocking. It’s horrible because she’s like a sister to me.
‘We’re not able to visit her and we feel like we can’t do anything. So, the fundraiser is to raise money to make sure Khloe has everything she needs to live a comfortable life when she is allowed home.’
In an update to the fundraising page four days ago Kayleigh wrote: ‘It’s been a rough week for the family with lots of up and downs. Khloe had been experiencing painful headaches along with seizures.
‘As we informed you before they put her to sleep and performed an MRI where they discovered a swelling on her brain. They took her off sedation on Friday but she is yet to be fully awake.
‘She has however in the last two days been trying to open her eyes when people are calling her name and responding when they pinch her arm. They have also started dialysis over the last week so things are beginning to move in the right direction finally.’