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Gloucester teen debilitated by genetic condition

Teri Walker is holding it together, but it gets tougher every day.

The Gloucester mother of three adult daughters—two of whom have special needs—has been spending two to three days a week driving to doctors’ appointments in Newport News or Richmond ever since her youngest daughter, Kayla Collins, 19, nearly died from hypertriglyceridemia.

The condition, which Walker said is genetic in Kayla, causes a build-up of fat in the bloodstream. Medication keeps the triglycerides that are the culprit under control; but last May, Kayla went a month without the medicine when the insurance company refused to pay for it.

Doctors discovered that Kayla’s triglyceride level was over 5,000, when normal is 149 or less, said Walker. They performed plasmapheresis on Kayla to siphon the excess fat from her blood, filling up a bag with over a gallon of fat, but the condition caused damage to Kayla’s pancreas.

A feeding tube was inserted into Kayla’s abdomen to ta...

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