Teen with Mitochondrial Disease Pushing for the Holidays

A teen suffering from a rare disease is receiving some holiday love from kind strangers.

When Nathan Kelley started losing his hearing, he knew something was wrong. At first, him and his family expected to be dealing with simple hearing loss. They had no idea it would escalate into much more.

Nathan was diagnosed with mitochondrial encephalomyopathy, lactic acidosis and stroke-like episodes. This mouthful of a disease is commonly referred to as MELAS. Although it’s extremely rare, it’s one of a series of conditions known as mitochondrial diseases, which target the brain, muscles, heart, liver, nerves, eyes, ears, and kidneys. One in 4,000 people suffer from a mitochondrial disease. To learn more about mitochondrial diseases, click here.

A hearing aid wouldn’t solve Nathan’s problem, because this disease went way beyond his ears. His brain could not comprehend the auditory signals and make sense of what was happening.

A year ago, Nathan had his first seizure, and this would shape things to come. The seizures became a regular thing and after each one, Nathan wasn’t the same person. They were gradually taking a toll on him day by day. Each MRI would detail the damage being done to his brain. In addition to losing his hearing, his eyesight began to grow hazy as well. Next, came the memory.

Nathan was experiencing the debilitating effects of growing old during his teen years.

There is currently no known cure for MELAS, besides the plethora of medications that Nathan has to take daily. His family is worried that he won’t live to see his 18th birthday. After his last seizure, he was left with a mere corner of his brain still in tact. His mother, Breanna, has had to endure watching her son reduce from fun-loving, to fighting for his life.

“My biggest goal for his last days may that be years or months, is to show him just how love and cared for he is and give him as much support as I possibly can,” said Breanna in an interview with Fox 2.

Breanna is asking people to help brighten Nathan’s holidays with birthday or Christmas cards, as his birthday is a few days before Christmas. She has also launched a GoFundMe account to help in his medical expenses, in which you can visit here.


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