Mother-of-two Abi assumed she had partied too hard at a friend’s wedding in France when she woke up feeling unwell and shivering last September. Duncan Bannatyne’s daughter today revealed that she is lucky to be alive after she mistook her sepsis for a hangover
But within 24 hours, she was rushed to hospital – and lay hallucinating on the floor of a busy A&E while doctors rushed to find her a bed.
The 34-year-old had a temperature of 42°C – which is so high it could have caused brain damage – after a water infection sparked sepsis.
Ms Bannatyne, from Middlesbrough, is now speaking about her ordeal in a bid to raise awareness of sepsis and help others recognise the signs.
‘It was a really frightening experience and I dread to think the outcome if I had not listened,’ she said. ‘It could have been a lot worse.’
Ms Bannatyne only told her father, the Dragon’s Den tycoon, who currently lives in Portugal, days after her life-threatening ordeal.
She claims she didn’t want to worry her father, who has an estimated £175 million fortune, because he was on holiday in Monaco at the time.
‘Dad was really worried but I told him not to panic and that I was getting better in hospital,’ Ms Bannatyne – who is the second-eldest of six children – added. ‘He was calling and texting me every day.’
Sepsis, known as the ‘silent killer’, strikes when an infection such as blood poisoning sparks a violent immune response in which the body attacks its own organs.
It is the leading cause of avoidable death in the UK, killing at least 44,000 a year, and the Daily Mail has long campaigned for more awareness.
Mother-of-two Abi assumed she had partied too hard at a friend’s wedding in France when she woke up feeling unwell and shivering (pictured with her father)
But within 24 hours, she was rushed to hospital – and lay hallucinating on the floor of a busy A&E while doctors rushed to find her a bed (pictured in hospital with her sister)
The 34-year-old had a temperature of 42°C – which is so high it could have caused brain damage – after a water infection turned into sepsis
Ms Bannatyne, from Middlesbrough, is now speaking about her ordeal in a bid to raise awareness of sepsis and help others recognise the signs
If caught early, the infection can be controlled by antibiotics before the body goes into overdrive – ultimately leading to death within a matter of minutes.
But the early symptoms of sepsis can be easily confused with more mild conditions, meaning it can be difficult to diagnose.
A patient can rapidly deteriorate if sepsis is missed early on, so quick diagnosis and treatment is vital – yet this rarely happens.
Ms Bannatyne, who was lucky to escape with her life, said: ‘I originally thought the symptoms were just a hangover from my friend’s wedding.
‘We had a pretty mad weekend so when I got to work on Monday morning I was still feeling unwell and just presumed I was still getting over it.
‘By lunchtime, I was freezing cold and sitting next to a heater when one of my colleagues told me I looked unwell and should head home to rest.
‘I had a lot of pain in my lower back and felt stiff, I got into bed and couldn’t lift my head up from my pillow and then I started vomiting uncontrollably even though I couldn’t eat.
‘It was a really frightening experience and I dread to think the outcome if I had not listened,’ she said. ‘It could have been a lot worse’ (pictured with her father)
Ms Bannatyne only told her father, the Dragon’s Den tycoon, who currently lives in Portugal, days after her life-threatening ordeal (pictured at a friend’s wedding)
‘My aunty had to collect my children from school but I will still adamant it was a hangover and that I would be fine in a couple of days.’
She continued to rest in bed but her condition took a turn for the worse when her temperature rocketed.
Ms Bannatyne said: ‘I was being so sick and I felt like I was dying, that’s why I decided to ring 111 at around 4am.
‘I didn’t have a thermometer so I think if I had checked my temperature at that point I would have realised how ill I was.
‘I had been telling everyone that I was fine as I didn’t want to bother emergency services if I was just suffering with flu.
‘I was told to get a doctors appointment first thing in the morning and if I couldn’t make it till then that I should ring 999 but by 7am I called for an ambulance.
‘Things suddenly got serious when she took my temperature and the paramedic said that we needed to get to hospital straight away.’
‘Dad was really worried but I told him not to panic and that I was getting better in hospital,’ Ms Bannatyne added. ‘He was calling and texting me every day’
Ms Bannatyne was rushed to North Tees Hospital, where she was told she would have to wait in A&E for a bed.
However, she was so ill that she had to lay down on the floor of the crowded unit as she began to hallucinate.
Ms Bannatyne said: ‘I told them I had to lie down as I felt so ill and they managed to find me a bed in about 10 minutes.
‘I began to get really delusional and I remember feeling like my head was going to fall off, I got really angry when people started laughing at me.
‘It was really bizarre like I was in and out of consciousness. Within half an hour the doctors knew it was sepsis.’
Doctors asked her when she had last taken antibiotics and it became clear that a course of treatment had not cleared up a previous water infection.
She spent six days in hospital, having to celebrate her 34th birthday on a ward surrounded by her family and her two children, Ava, nine, and Austin, six.
Despite having private healthcare through her father’s business – the working mother was overjoyed with her NHS treatment.
Despite having private healthcare through her father’s business – the working mother was overjoyed with her NHS treatment
Ms Bannatyne said: ‘The nurses and doctors were amazing – I was treated really quickly although it was quite depressing being in a hospital on your birthday.
‘It was upsetting for the children to see their mum go through all of this too.
‘I was at the gym three times a week and was also running regularly, now I struggle to run up the stairs. I’m still recovering six months on.’
Dr Ron Daniels, chief executive of the UK Sepsis Trust, said: ‘Stories like Abi’s remind us of the serious damage sepsis can do.
‘Every day in the UK, individuals and families have their lives torn apart by the condition, but better awareness could save thousands of lives each year.
‘Anyone with flu-like symptoms and one or more of the key signs of sepsis must present to healthcare immediately, either by calling an ambulance or going to an emergency department.
‘With every hour that passes before the right antibiotics are administered, the risk of death increases.’
WHAT IS SEPSIS?
Sepsis, also known as blood poisoning, occurs when the body reacts to an infection by attacking its own organs and tissues.
Some 44,000 people die from sepsis every year in the UK. Worldwide, someone dies from the condition every 3.5 seconds.
Sepsis has similar symptoms to flu, gastroenteritis and a chest infection.
- Slurred speech or confusion
- Extreme shivering or muscle pain
- Passing no urine in a day
- Severe breathlessness
- It feels like you are dying
- Skin mottled or discoloured
Symptoms in children are:
- Fast breathing
- Fits or convulsions
- Mottled, bluish or pale skin
- Rashes that do not fade when pressed
- Feeling abnormally cold
Under fives may be vomiting repeatedly, not feeding or not urinating for 12 hours.
Anyone can develop sepsis but it is most common in people who have recently had surgery, have a urinary catheter or have stayed in hospital for a long time.
Other at-risk people include those with weak immune systems, chemotherapy patients, pregnant women, the elderly and the very young.
Treatment varies depending on the site of the infection but involves antibiotics, IV fluids and oxygen, if necessary.