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Emmerdale's Kitty McGeever, first blind actress on British soap, dies

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Kitty McGeever has passed away, a spokeswoman has confirmed. The star was best known for playing Lizzie Lakely on Emmerdale and she was the first blind actress to appear in a British soap.

A representative for Emmerdale confirmed the sad news, saying: "Kitty was a great talent and a true inspiration to all who worked with her. The cast and crew are devastated at her passing and she will be missed tremendously and remembered fondly by all of us."

She added that Kitty died on Sunday night, "surrounded by her loving family".

kitty mcgeever1 © Photo: Rex

Kitty McGeever played Lizzie Lakely on Emmerdale for four years

The actress, who was also a stand-up comedian, starred on Emmerdale for four years from 2009 to 2013. She lost her sight at the age of 33, shortly before taking on her small screen role. Kitty's other TV credits include Beautiful People and London's Burning.

When she was pregnant with her son Felix, Kitty developed the life-threatening condition pre-eclampsia, which is typically characterised by high blood pressure.

Her son was born prematurely and when he was four months old, he suffered heart and lung problems. Baby Felix passed away when he was just a toddler.

kitty mcgeever2 © Photo: Rex

The actress became blind as a result of the stress she suffered after her baby son Felix died

As a result of her son's illness, Kitty fell sick and suffered a great deal of stress. She developed kidney problems and diabetic retinopathy, which eventually led to her blindess.

The Rada-trained star was awaiting a kidney transplant when she passed away. Emmerdale producer Kate Oakes has revealed that Kitty was an organ donor.

"Sadly she ran out of time on that, but what she did do was donate her liver and also her corneas, so Kitty's family and Kitty have hopefully given the gift of life to someone else through this tragedy, which I think is just a wonderful thing," said Kate.

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Kitty's co-stars have paid tribute to the star on Twitter

Following the news of the actress' death, her co-stars have paid tribute on Twitter. Natalie Anderson, who announced she was quitting Emmerdale in May, wrote: "RIP the unbelievably wonderful Kitty McGeever. An absolutely incredible inspiring and funny woman whom I was lucky enough to know. #kitty."

"So sad to hear the news our dear Kitty McGeever has died. Never forget the scenes we used to have with her infectious laugh❤ miss you xxx," Gemma Oaten, who plays Rachel Breckle and is also leaving the show, tweeted.

Chelsea Halfpenny, who played Amy Wyatt, added: "So, so saddened by the loss of our lovely Kitty McGeever. I feel so lucky to have worked with such a wonderful, hard-working woman."