Welsh mum tells of heartbreak of losing her daughter to sepsis

9 January 2018, 18:55 | Updated: 9 January 2018, 19:01

Chloe Christopher

A mother from South Wales has described how she tried to save her daughter's life as she collapsed and died from sepsis.

Chloe Christopher, 17, died on New Year's Eve in 2014 after developing the life-threatening illness.

The student from Cwmaman, near Aberdare, was thought to have been suffering a chest infection, but collapsed.

Her mother Michelle is now speaking about the tragedy to help people recognise the signs of sepsis.3

Sepsis can lead to shock, multiple organ failure and death, especially when not recognised early.

"It was so sudden; one minute laughing and joking, the next she said she felt unwell and a bit scared," she said in a video for the Welsh Ambulance Service.

"I phoned for the emergency services immediately and even though we didn't know what was happening, we knew it was serious.

"Chloe suffered a cardiac arrest in front of us, and having to try and perform CPR on your own daughter was indescribable.

Chloe seemed to be suffering from a cold or the start of a chest infection during Christmas that year.

"She was a little lethargic with some aches and pains, what you could describe as a typical teenager moans and groans," she said.

"It seemed nothing to worry about."

Chloe spent the evening of her death with one of her closest friends "laughing and joking" and looking forward to a fancy dress party for New Year.

The family were first aware that Chloe, a student at Aberdare Community School, had developed sepsis at the teenager's inquest five months later.

"We heard that Chloe had signs of a urine infection which turned to sepsis, led to multi-organ failure and then cardiac arrest," Ms Christopher said.

"Since Chloe's passing, it's been my passion to raise awareness and to help educate the public on the signs of sepsis.

"It is estimated that sepsis kills around 44,000 people in the UK a year; it's bigger than breast, bowel and prostate cancer put together.

"If caught early, sepsis can be treatable, so the key message is education, knowledge and awareness and to just ask 'could this be sepsis?'

"By doing this, it helps keep our beautiful Chloe's memory alive, hoping that maybe we can save a family going through what we have."

The Welsh Ambulance Service is calling on people to seek help immediately if they suspect the signs of sepsis.

Andy Swinburn from the trust, said: "Sepsis is a serious condition that can initially look like flu, gastroenteritis or a chest infection.

"If you develop slurred speech or confusion, extreme shivering or muscle pain, severe breathlessness, mottled skin or you have trouble passing urine, it could be sepsis.

"You must seek medical help immediately, it could mean the difference between life and death."