Girl, 17, died of leukaemia 10 days after NHS doctors dismissed illness as TIREDNESS

Sophie Coldwell died of leukaemia - just ten days after doctors sent her home
Sophie Coldwell died of leukaemia - just ten days after doctors sent her home
Sophie Coldwell died of leukaemia - just ten days after doctors sent her home
Sophie Coldwell died of leukaemia – just ten days after doctors sent her home

A 17-year-old girl died from a rare form of leukaemia – just 10 DAYS after doctors sent her home saying she was suffering from tonsillitis and TIREDNESS.

Sophie Coldwell was also diagnosed with inflamed gums and chronic fatigue syndrome when she went to NHS walk-in centre on March 7 this year.

Her parents put her symptoms down to being in her first year of college but realised something was drastically wrong when her breathing became shallow and rasping on March 16.

They called an ambulance but tragically Sophie lost consciousness on the way to hospital and never recovered.

She was rushed to Solihull Hospital before being transferred to Heartlands Hospital but died at 12.40am on March 17 from suspected acute monoblastic myeloid leukaemia.

A consultant told her devastated parents Andy and Sherry, both 46, he had never seen the rare and extreme form of leukaemia kill someone so quickly.

Devastated dad Andy, a manager at Jaguar Land Rover, said he hoped the suddenness of Sophie’s death would help save lives in the future.

He said: “Sophie wasn’t feeling that well. She couldn’t eat because her mouth was that sore. She had a tough ten days, really.

“She felt tired. At the time, we put that down to it being her first year in college, it was longer hours.

“It didn’t really raise any concerns at the time.

“The two main things she was being treated for were tonsillitis and gingivitis inflamed gums, which on their own are everyday viruses.

Sophie (left) was also diagnosed with inflamed gums and chronic fatigue syndrome when she went to a walk-in centre on March 7 this year
Sophie (left) was also diagnosed with inflamed gums and chronic fatigue syndrome when she went to a walk-in centre on March 7 this year

“The problem is the reason why those viruses were being brought on was leukaemia.

“As a father, I question everything I did and whether any more could have been done.

“The fact it took everybody by surprise doesn’t mean you still don’t do that as parents.

“The consultant said teams would learn from this because of how aggressive and quickly it happened.

“The thought Sophie is going to help people now because of this probably summarises her quite adequately.”

Mum Sherry, a receptionist at a doctor’s surgery, added: “She was okay on Saturday morning (16/3), taking her medication.

“It was only in the evening that her breathing changed we thought maybe she was having a panic attack.

“The consultant said he had never seen anything so aggressive. How quickly it happened was just something he had not seen before.”

Sophie’s sister Katie, 14, penned a poignant letter to her sister which was included in the order of service at her funeral.

She wrote: “Your life was only just beginning, there is so much that you’re going to miss out on, but I know that you will be watching over me and making sure that I make the right decisions, which is all I can ask from you.

“I hope that you are okay up there and I bet you’re still saying ‘Get out of my room’.

“One day, we will be together again. I just wish that I was there to say goodbye.”

Sophie, who went from Lyndon School to Solihull Sixth Form College, lived with her parents and younger sister in Yardley, Birmingham.

She had been with her boyfriend Matt Robinson, 18, since November last year and her family said she was at her ‘happiest’ with him.

Matt, who lives in Kings Heath, Birmingham, knew Sophie was ill but didn’t realise how serious her condition was.

In a moving last text to his girlfriend, he wrote: “You’ve gone from a girl I added on Facebook to being my life, my heart, my soul, my world, my rock, my shoulder, my everything.

“You’re just amazing. Everything about you is stunning, from your smile to your eyes, from your hair to your half-painted nails, from your freckles on top of your shoulders to the freckles on your forehead  my perfection.”

Dad Andy said: “We’re struggling to come to terms with it at the moment.

“Every day is a struggle and that’s really down to how quickly it happened. It’s taken a while for us to get our heads around.

“We have had really fantastic support from family, friends and Sophie’s friends, who are taking Katie out and promise to look after her.

“She met Matt in November. I’m a typical father but Matt, right from the start, hit it off with Sophie and with us.

“From a dad point-of-view, he ticked all the boxes straight away. You could almost see the connection they had.”

Sherry added: “She was happy, she was only 17 so she hadn’t had many boyfriends.

“With Matt she was the happiest I’d ever seen her and very content.”


  1. My deepest sympathies to you all. RIP Sophie.

    There are thousands being diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome without being given adequate testing by their GPs. This has to end!

    A beautiful young woman’s life has been taken early because of doctors inability to properly listen to their patient and understand how ill they really are. I am saddened to read of this poor girl losing her life because of doctors ineptitude.

    Hundreds of thousands of people with CFS are being abandoned and not being given the investigations they desperately need to find out what is really wrong with them. Please bring this to an end!

    • This girl is reported as having a consultant.

      Then she was not just suffering tiredness and gingivitus…she must have been under the care of a consultant for he had given a diagnosis as CFS.

      So this must have been going on months for that to have occurred.

      So this was not sudden as described in this report and by her parents.

      They also mention they thought her breathing difficulties were a panic attack…typical to believe that of a CFS sufferer.

      the sooner they lose the attitude that those diagnosed with CFS are over exaggerating and start listening to what they are feeling and enduring then the sooner they’ll get to the reasons behind the symptoms.

      I am sickened by this poor girls death and the lack of care she received and the inability of Doctors to properly listen to their patients.

      • I think they meant the hospital consultant who would have been put in charge of her on arrival at the hospital. Such a sad thing to happen 🙁 Deepest condolences, RIP Sophie x

        • There are thousands all across the entire globe who died without proper investigations with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, there is even now a Memorial list with numerous people who have died yet these Governments do absolutely nothing!!

  2. its hard im a sufferer of cfs and other conditions as soon as i go to a ane or walkin centre you see there faces when you tell them, then bloods wasnt taken and only got checked over and was in for suspected dvt blood clot, how we get dismissed and treated is disgusting i only wish one day they take our condition very seriously and believe this is a condition and not all in our heads, with being diagnosed with cfs for many years i have been diagnosed with other conditions in which i think its all a link as people with cfs cant surely be diagnosed with same other conditions if it wasnt linked at all, my only hope they find a cure or at least treatment one day. its such a sad life to live with it and i dont envy anyone going through this, you dont no until it hits you, its like a battery has run out and you running on standby, you rest and it can take hours, days, weeks, months, years before that battery recharge, yes they say pace yourself but even pacing does not help for all, it can hit you at anytime…. let this be a lesson on behalf of the doctors and hospital treating this poor girl and that this awareness gets its justice we need to find cure or treatment, my thoughts go out to the parents, nows the time to fight and get heard, many people will tell you how they get treated, ignored, never checked over furrer, not under a specialist to be checked for further diagnoses bloods, just left to deal with it and no help only on symptoms which we are quick enough to be handed medication, and with many cfs people there comes the tolerence levels of med, food ect!!!

  3. Doctors need to remember this condition when they examine a young person- Viral Syndrome eg. EBV or CMV would clearly show on titres if taken would , and a CBC with Differential a.

  4. Could have uncovered the Leukemia if it had been taken in the office when she prented to the clinic the first time! Cost savings over rode the concern for making an accuratw diagnosis. Gingivitis and severe fatigue are so characteristic of Acute Leukemic con.ditions. Not able to say for sure that saving money was the reason for this being allowed to go on for a week but it sure is sad. The Leukemia may well have been fatal despite earlier recognition & attempt at chemotherapy & then bone marrow transplant.


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