Kelly Ronahan’s story is quite heartbreaking. Most people now learn about it via TikTok; however, a few watched Kelly deteriorate from a healthy woman with dreams of returning to ballet to a frail lady who needed amputation to save her life.
Ronahan’s decline hurt all the more because no one could diagnose her condition. She leaped from one mysterious illness to another, leading to claims that she created her symptoms to get attention. A bizarre internet rumor claimed that Kelly injected feces into her legs to induce sepsis.
This piece takes a deeper look at Kelly Ronahan’s story.
Kelly gained recognition for requiring weekly blood transfusions to manage a rare blood disease
Kelly Ronahan first gained recognition in 2014: she needed weekly blood transfusions to manage a rare blood disease. Doctors couldn’t figure out why her hemoglobin count kept plummeting every week.
By March 2016, she’d received 95 liters of blood. “I get three bags every two weeks, so that’s three people, three blood donors to save me every two weeks,” Kelly told Global News. [Without the transfusions] I would go into organ failure, and within a month or six weeks, I would be dead.”
Despite the transfusions, Kelly continued to deteriorate. The condition barred her from returning to work as a ballet teacher. “I’m kind of scared to hear about the future because I’m becoming more and more intolerant to blood with every transfusion,” Kelly said.
Kelly’s story garnered sympathy from netizens, who showered her with support every time she posted an update. Ronahan joined a blood donation organization to motivate people to donate blood.
In July 2016, Ronahan was admitted to hospitals for seizures. However, doctors discharged her after discovering that she was faking the seizures.
People reacted to her admission by organizing a blood drive in her honor. She continued to receive support even after informing people about the doctors’ conclusions. Throughout 2016, people organized several blood drives in Kelly’s name.
Her feature on a local news channel reinforced the belief that Kelly really was ailing and needed help to make it through.
In early 2017, Kelly’s port became infected, leading to sepsis. Ronahan also informed her followers that she’d been suffering from exercise obsession and eating disorders. She also claimed to have harmed herself before she got sick, but the scars she posted didn’t appear to be three years old.
Ronahan’s port also got infected again, forcing doctors to monitor her for three weeks. Shortly before her planned discharge, Kelly developed seizures and a rash. In April 2017, Kelly went to the hospital for a different reason and had her blood drawn.
Tests revealed that her hemoglobin count was normal, sparking speculation that she’d been faking a rare condition for attention. Kelly refuted the speculation by accusing the doctor of scheming against her.
Ronahan’s mysterious leg condition appeared in 2018 and spread rapidly in the coming months
Ronahan blamed MS and uterine fibroids for her blood condition but didn’t have the evidence to support her assertions. Kelly claimed she needed a hysterectomy to eliminate the fibroids.
By 2018, rumors that Kelly was faking it had really gained traction. In April 2018, doctors removed her port because she didn’t need transfusions anymore.
A month later, Kelly’s reported swelling on her feet and blisters that allegedly appeared out of nowhere. The blisters got bigger as Kelly impulsively picked on them. She claimed to be in so much pain that she needed pain meds, but doctors refused to prescribe the medication.
Kelly’s condition got worse as 2018 progressed: the scabs turned into much larger wounds. The medical mystery got more complicated when Ronahan suffered seizures and developed blisters on her hands.
As the wounds on her legs get more prominent, doctors start worrying about circulation issues and nerve damage. Unfortunately, Kelly received hate from social media, which affects her mental health.
The photos she posted got progressively more difficult to look at as her condition worsened. She informed her followers that doctors had diagnosed her with an autoimmune disease. In 2019, she got skin grafts and appeared to improve.
In early April 2019, she posted that she’d completed her first walk in months and was delighted about it. Kelly wrote:
“It was so intense after being trapped by my legs for so long. I am admittedly very sore today, and I love it! I’ve been in such a dark place, for SO long, so so long. My mind is trying to syk me out – omg what if it happens again – or – What if this is a dream and I wake up with rotten legs?”
Doctors amputated Kelly’s legs in May 2021 after Kelly destroyed her grafts
Several weeks after her hopeful Instagram post, Kelly returned to the hospital after picking the wounds on her legs. She got committed for three days so doctors could try to save her legs.
Multiple experts looked at her case, but none could diagnose her condition. As time went by, Kelly reported the loss of feeling in her legs and ankles. The wounds refused to heal due to their large size and Ronahan’s inability to stop interrupting recovery.
Eventually, doctors recommended that she undergo amputation. By then, one of her toes had fallen off. Kelly posted the following update after the procedure:
“I started physio only several hours after surgery. Good fuck it hurts, but I’m not interested in spending yet another summer in bed – going to be working hard. Not gonna lie, I cry about 20 times per day, I’m absolutely devastated and shocked to shit with this. It’s HARD.”
Kelly’s social media posts reduced gradually after her surgery. She’d revealed her intention to get prosthetics and is likely to update her followers about her progress.
Ronahan has faced accusations of faking illnesses for attention. People fake disease for online fame, but few go as far as having their legs amputated. We can’t make any conclusions about Kelly, but we hope that she’ll heal from her trauma and live a happy life onwards.