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Young mum left living with stoma bag after her sore throat turned out to be a deadly infection

A young mum who was sent home from a doctor’s appointment with a prescription for mouthwash is lucky to be alive after her sore throat turned out to be a deadly blood infection.

Stephanie in hospital and then after treatment

Stephanie in hospital and then after treatment


Stephanie Jennings, 25, from Worthing, West Sussex, has been left wearing a stoma bag after her body was ravaged by pneumonia, which led to sepsis.

But she struggled to be diagnosed becase dctors thought she was suffering from a common cold – despite her throat being so sore she couldn’t eat – and lost two stone in three weeks.

Despite visiting her GP five times, on each visit she was sent away with a prescription for antibacterial mouthwash.

Exhausted and struggling for breath, Stephanie’s health was rapidly declining and she was rushed to hospital by her boyfriend, Michael Joseph, 32.

She was diagnosed with having suffered from pneumonia which lead to her developing sepsis.

As she lay gravely ill in hospital, doctors warned her body was so weak that she was hours from death before being admitted.

Stephanie was given a large dose of antibiotics to cure her sepsis, but this triggered ulcerative colitis leaving Stephanie’s colon so badly damaged that she had to have it removed.

She has since overcome her life changing ordeal and the self-employed nail technician wears her stoma bag with pride.

Stephanie said: “At first I thought I was just run down, but my throat gradually got worse and was so inflamed that I struggled to eat solid foods.

“I assumed it was just a common cold, as did the doctors, but after my fifth visit I knew it was something more serious, I felt like my body was giving up on me.

Stephanie in hospital and now with her stoma bag

Stephanie in hospital and now with her stoma bag


“My partner, Michael, rushed me to A&E, where doctors quickly found that I had been suffering with pneumonia that had triggered an infection causing sepsis, and my whole body was shutting down.

“I was told the harsh reality that if I hadn’t of gone there when I did then things could have been a lot different, I was hours away from my organs failing.

“I was treated on two separate occasions for septic shock, but due to the high dose of antibiotics it triggered ulcerative colitis and I had to have my colon removed, I was terrified and in complete shock.

“I still can’t believe that a sore throat led to such drastic consequences to my health, I now have a stoma bag and will wear it for the rest of my life, but I know how lucky I am to be here today.”

Stephanie assumed her sore throat was down to exhaustion but, after weeks of intense pain, she urged her partner, Michael, to take her to A&E.

After a few quick tests it was revealed that Stephanie had in fact been suffering with sepsis, a life threating illness that had been caused by pneumonia.

With sepsis, the body’s immune system goes into overdrive, causing a dramatic drop in blood pressure and reducing the blood supply to vital organs such as the brain, heart and kidneys.

She added: “After a while I knew it couldn’t just be sore throat, I felt like I was dying, that is the only way I can describe it.

“After visiting my GP surgery for the fifth time I couldn’t go on any longer without any strong medication and Michael rushed me to A&E.

“But after receiving my diagnosis I was given two courses of antibiotics as I went into septic shock for a second time.

Stephanie before with baby son Elban and now

Stephanie before with baby son Elban and now


“Eventually the antibiotics worked but a few weeks later I still felt really poorly, I had extreme stomach cramps and diarrhoea, and I put it down to the high dose of drugs.”

Over the next two months Stephanie’s symptoms gradually got worse so she went back to her doctors where she was referred for more tests.

In a drastic turn of events, Stephanie was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis – a form of bowel disease which causes inflammation and ulceration of the colon – that was caused by the extremely large doses of antibiotics she was given to cure her sepsis.

Her colon was so damaged it was close to rupturing and, at the age of just 24, Stephanie had to have it removed.

Stephanie said: “I was terrified and my whole body felt numb, I still thought I wasn’t going to make it.

“When I woke up all I wanted to do was see my boys but because I was in intensive care, Michael was unable to bring Elban to see me as he was so young, that was the hardest part of it all.

“I now wear a stoma bag, which I wanted to rip off at first, but I realised life is just too short and a year on from my operation I now embrace it and realise how lucky I am to be here today.

Stephanie in hospital

Stephanie in hospital


“It’s hard to believe that a sore throat could completely turn your life upside down, but I now urge others to trust their instinct and always ask for help.”

Dr Ron Daniels BEM, Chief Executive of the UK Sepsis Trust, said: “Sepsis, or blood poisoning, is the reaction to an infection in which the body attacks its own organs and tissues and, if not spotted and treated quickly, it can rapidly cause organ failure and death.

“In its early stages, sepsis can look like a bad case of the flu. Symptoms might initially include a very sore throat, achy muscles and fatigue.

“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, risk of death increases.”

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