A 26-year-old man died after struggling for many years with a debilitating illness caused by a strong tackle during a football match when he was just eight, say his devastated family.
Connor Horton, from Rock, near Kidderminster and Bewdley, tragically died of Crohn's disease in June, due to pneumonia and complications with the disease, after battling the condition for 18 years.
There’s no cure and no clear understanding of what causes the illness which doctors still know little about, but his family believes the incident during the school playground game was the catalyst.
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Connor's brother, Jay Shredder, 28, said that most of Connor's life was ruined by this disease as he suffered from a very severe case.
Jay added that his brother missed out on having a proper childhood as he was constantly sick, had no energy and ended up dropping out of college.
“It started when we were kids as he got tackled quite badly at primary school playing football," said Jay.
"His knee flared up a lot and he became more and more ill and never got better after that. Doctors couldn’t pinpoint what was wrong.
"They eventually diagnosed Crohn’s.
"They don’t know what causes Crohn’s but it just needs a trigger, so I assume that tackle was what triggered something in Connor's body.
Jay added: “When we were kids, Connor would be smiley, we’d throw worms at each other and play in the field.
"But as Connor got worse, he didn’t smile much. It changed how he looked and he didn’t want photos taken.
"Connor felt very defeated with life.”
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Crohn’s disease causes swelling of tissues in the digestive system that can lead to abdominal pain, severe diarrhoea, weight loss and life-threatening complications – but there is no cure.
The NHS website explains that it is believed certain factors can play a role such as if it runs in the family through genes and if the immune system is affected, causing it to attack the digestive system.
Connor attended school but later became housebound by the debilitating condition.
He was treated by Birmingham Children’s Hospital until he turned 18 and his mum, Rosie Horton, became his carer.
Despite his struggles it was after Connor died that his family found out about the secret world his brother was living online.
Hearing about friendships Connor formed within the gaming community internationally gave Jay relief that his brother found happiness despite being in despair over his condition.
Forced to live a life from his bedroom, it emerged that Connor had helped people struggling with depression.
One girl online even spoke about how Connor had sent her a positivity board when she was at her lowest ebb.
“It’s been amazing to hear how Connor never stopped trying to help people despite what he was going through,” said Jay.
Jay is using money raised after Connor’s death on a GoFundMe page to set up a charity to raise more public awareness about Crohn’s disease and support families and patients with the illness.
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