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Ashford teenager Yasmin Swift's support for invisible illness after disabled parking row

She looks the picture of health but teenager Yasmin Swift has an invisible illness and relies on a cocktail of drugs to keep her alive.

Now the plucky 19-year-old from Willesborough has made the brave decision to share her personal battles with the world.

She is on a mission to increase understanding of her invisible illness after an aggressive note was left on her car accusing her of wrongly taking up a disabled parking space in Tenterden.

Video: Yasmin tells her story on battling rare condition

The teenager has a rare condition, idiopathic pulmonary arterial hypertension (IPAH), which leaves her struggling for breath doing the simplest of tasks like making her own bed or washing the dishes.

When a stranger slapped the note on her car in July, threatening to report her to the authorities for misuse of the space, Yasmin was on a rare evening out visiting friends in her former home town of Tenterden.

The upsetting incident led her to think about how people with invisible illnesses were treated and it was during a recent two-week spell in London's Royal Free hospital that she decided to share her experiences.

Doctors at the Royal Free were trying to stabilise her rare condition, which leads to high blood pressure in the blood vessels that supply the lungs.

Yasmin pictured at a barbecue in Biddenden raising money for the IPAH charity
Yasmin pictured at a barbecue in Biddenden raising money for the IPAH charity
Yasmin swimming with dolphins in Portugal
Yasmin swimming with dolphins in Portugal
The note left on her car in the summer
The note left on her car in the summer

Left untreated it can damage the right side of the heart and cause it to fail. Yasmin will also need a lung transplant in the future.

The student of The Hair Academy in Ashford had been plagued by headaches and sickness, side effects of medication that is continuously pumped into her body through an intravenous drip to prevent clots and widen her blood vessels.

She said: "I'd been thinking about setting up an account for a while as I'd followed other people with illnesses and it makes you think your life isn't so bad.

"You don't feel so alone and people help each other even if they have different conditions."

Yasmin is open about the effects of her illness.

Yasmin in London's Royal Free Hospital when she decided to share her experience of illness
Yasmin in London's Royal Free Hospital when she decided to share her experience of illness

She said: "I'm not coping well at the moment. Just making my bed and washing up leaves me feeling so tired - and I'm breathless walking upstairs.

"I've lost my independence massively and I can't work at the moment. I loved working at the hair academy, learning a skill, listening to people's chat and having a giggle.

"Sometimes I feel angry and upset and what I'm going through does feel unfair.

"I wanted to travel the world and at my age I should be in the prime of my life."

But Yasmin - who reveals on her Instagram account that every 48 hours she spends 45 minutes preparing the drugs she needs to stay alive - never dwells on the negative and quickly returns her focus to helping others.

"One woman who was ill and didn't want to do anything told me she'd been inspired to get up and go for a walk to breathe in some fresh air after reading my post and I felt really good about that," she recalls.

Yasmin with her other medication (5114584)
Yasmin with her other medication (5114584)

Yasmin's Instagram posts can be seen on swift_yasmin Yasmin's Unseen Illness and she also has an Unseen Illness Facebook group.

In December when teenage friends are enjoying parties in the run-up to Christmas, Yasmin, a former Homewood School pupil will be spending three days at Papworth Hospital in Cambridgeshire undergoing further tests in preparation for her future lung transplant.

Yasmin explains with typical candour: "Doctors can't tell me when I will have the lung transplant but they do tell me it will be needed."

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