Friends rally to help young Belper woman struck by rare illness

editorial image

Kind-hearted Belper women Joanna Saunders and Sarah Moore are appealing for donations to help support a dear friend through a debilitating illness.

Twenty-one-year-old Laura Harby has been so badly affected by Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS) - a rare condition which affects connective tissue - that she has spent most of 2016 in hospital.

When the former Belper School and Sixth Form Centre student’s condition worsened she was transferred from the Royal Derby Hospital to St Mark’s Hospital in London, where she has to be fed intravenously into the heart by a total parenteral nutrition tube (TPN).

Joanna said: “Sarah and I have been raising money for the family to be used where they most need it.

“At the moment Laura’s mum Jane has been staying in London so that she is near to Laura, but staying in London has proved to be more expensive than they anticipated so we have been working to raise money so that Jane can carry on staying near Laura and so that Laura’s dad, Keith, can travel to London each weekend to see his family.

“Hopefully, they won’t have to do this for much longer, but several alterations will need to be made to the house if Laura is discharged.

“Despite all of this, Laura has continued to be an example of courage and kindness to those who have met her and is often more concerned with the welfare of her fellow patients than herself.”

So far Joanna and Sarah have organised a coffee morning, bag-packing in Morrisons, a quiz night and completed an 8.5-mile sponsored walk around Carsington Water with two other friends.

Joanna added: “We have chosen to do this as we want to support Laura as she now faces the challenge of living with EDS. We want to show her and her family that they are not alone.”

EDS is the name for a group of rare inherited conditions that affect the connective tissues which provide support in skin, tendons, ligaments, blood vessels, internal organs and bones.

Different types of EDS are caused by faults in certain genes which may have been inherited from one or both parents.

Sometimes the faulty gene is not inherited but simply occurs during a person’s lifetime.

EDS can affect people in different ways. For some the condition is relatively mild, while for others their symptoms can be disabling and some of the rare severe types can be life-threatening.

To make a donation click here. You can also like the fundraising campaign on Facebook by visiting