Teen left battling for life in coma after a common cold turned into sepsis

Whitney Martin, 18.

A teenage waitress has been left battling for her life in hospital – after a common cold turned into sepsis and left her in an induced coma.

Whitney Martin, 18, thought she simply had a cold when she was left bed-ridden with flu-like symptoms around three weeks ago.

But she was rushed to Princess Royal Hospital in Telford, Shrops, after her condition worsened and her illness began attacking her vital organs on May 4.

Just 24 hours later she was transferred to Wythenshawe Hospital in Manchester for specialist treatment and was left in intensive care after she suffered heart failure and “technically died twice” on the operating table.

Whitney has since been left in an induced coma, relying on two life support machines and been diagnosed with sepsis and myocardiopathy – a disorder of the heart muscle.

Her mum Suzanne, 38, has been forced to quit her job as a support worker in order to care for her daughter who is receiving around-the-clock care in intensive care.

Mum-of-two Suzanne, of Telford, who is now living in a bungalow for transplant patients on the hospital site, said: “It all started about three weeks ago when she had a cold.

“It was usual flu-like conditions such as tiredness and being hot and cold and we thought she was just being a bit of a drama queen.

“She was fit and healthy girl and we never expected what was to come next as she was such an outgoing girl.

“On the Friday (4/5), her blood pressure was too low and her temperature was sky high and I took one look at her and knew I had to get her to a hospital.

Whitney Martin, 18.

“She had been due to start a job as a waitress at one of our local pubs the next day.

“Within 24 hours her condition completely deteriorated and they wanted to transfer her to Birmingham by air ambulance for specialist care because they thought she was going to die.

“The didn’t have any beds so she went by land ambulance to Manchester. She went straight into intensive care as she suffered heart failure.

“Her heart stopped twice, she technically died twice on the operating table and she only had a 50/50 chance of survival.

“But they did an incredible job and she was put on two life support machines and placed into an induced coma.”

Whitney was placed in an BiVAD machine, an implantable pump designed to help the heart function better when both sides of the heart are failing.

She was also hooked up to an ECMO machine, which uses an artificial lung to oxygenate the blood outside the body.

Although her condition remains life-threatening, her family remain hopeful she can pull through after she started showing signs of recovery this week.

Suzanne, who lives with partner Kevin Davidson, 42, a lorry driver, and her other son Luis, 20, added: “It has just been a living hell and every mothers worst nightmare.

“But she is now off one of the machines after her heart started working independently of the BiVAD machine, which the consultant had said is a small miracle.

“We are just hoping for the best now, she has picked up but I could still potentially be here another six, nine or 12 months until after Christmas they are telling me.

“The doctors and nurses have just been amazing and I cannot thank them enough for what they have done for Whitney so far.

“We are just praying she carries on fighting because we’ve always said Whitney cannot live without me and I can’t live without Whitney – she is my little mini me.”

Whitney Martin, 18, (L) with mum Suzanne, 38, (R).

Her grandmother Wendy Burford, said: “As a family we’re living day-by-day as everything is now down to chance.

“It has been such a shock to everyone as Whitney was so young and full of life.

“We are remaining hopeful that Whitney will pull through and wake up soon.

“Of course, we want to do as much as we can to help family members who want to visit and support Whitney and make regular visits.

“Her mother, Susan, has been so strong throughout it all.

“She’s had to give up her job in order to care for and visit Whitney in hospital. Manchester is quite a way and affording to travel on a regular basis is tiring and very expensive.”

Sepsis, also known as blood poisoning, is the reaction to an infection in which the body attacks its own organs and tissues.

Symptoms include slurred speech, shivering, confusion and sever breathlessness. It can occur in both children and adults and can be life threatening when left undetected.

The condition kills at least 44,000 people each year in the UK and is one of the country’s biggest killers, yet is not widely understood by the public.


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