Beautiful student dies just 19 days after tonsillitis diagnosis
A beautiful student has died just 19 days after being diagnosed with TONSILLITIS.
Chelsea Jackson, 20, from Wolverhampton, West Mids, was rarely unwell before she was struck down with a sore throat on December 28.
Doctors diagnosed her with tonsillitis but when her health rapidly deteriorated despite being on antibiotics, she was admitted to hospital and later placed into intensive care.
By this point Chelsea couldn’t eat, swallow, her eyes had turned yellow and she struggled to breathe.
Baffled doctors finally tested her for Hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis (HLH) – a rare but life-threatening immune condition that causes organ failure as it destroy healthy cells instead of those infected – and her results were positive.
This explained why she couldn’t fight the infection and despite being pumped with chemotherapy in a bid to reverse the damage, it was too late.
Chelsea died three days later as a direct result of secondary HLH which is believed to have been triggered by her tonsillitis.
Her devastated mum, Nicki, 41, and big sister, Lauren, 23, are now sharing her story to raise awareness for the rare condition.
Nicki, a sales assistant, said: “Chelsea was never really ill so when she started to complain of a sore throat, we just assumed she’d caught a cold.
“Over the next few days she rapidly worsened so we took her to an emergency doctors clinic to be on the safe side.
“It was there that she was diagnosed with tonsillitis and when white puss started to form on her throat a few days later, we went back and she was given a 10 day course of strong antibiotics.
“We had no idea how serious things were about to get, tonsillitis is a common illness and everyone normally recovers but her body wasn’t responding to the medication.
“Chelsea was the life and soul of the party and loved socialising, it was heart-breaking to see her in so much pain.
“Doctors initially thought she might have glandular fever after a lump was found on her neck before Christmas, so we assumed it would take a while before she was well again.
“No-one expected her to die, it was awful having to say our goodbyes, it was way too soon and she had so much life left to give.”
On January 4, Chelsea’s older sister, Lauren, 23, drove her to A&E after it became impossible for her to eat or drink.
Nicki said: “She was on the ward for three days as the nurses tried their best to treat her but she continued to get worse.
“Everything was happening so fast and she was soon placed on the intensive care ward after her liver and spline struggled to cope with the infections in her body.
“When we first arrived at hospital Chelsea was still texting her friends saying she’ll be home in a few days, none of us realised it was life-threatening.”
By January 10, Chelsea agreed to be sedated to help her body recover – the oxygen mask was making her feel claustrophobic and she needed to be ventilated.
Doctors gave her blood transfusions in a bid to stabilise her condition but still nothing worked.
Nicki added: “It was four days after she was sedated that she was diagnosed with HLH, a rare immune disorder overstimulates the immune system which then damages healthy cells and organs including the bone marrow, the liver and the brain.
“It was a race against time to try and get it under control with steroids and chemotherapy.
“We were all called up to the hospital to say our final goodbyes as it didn’t look like she was going to make the night.
“There was nothing more hospital staff could do to save Chelsea and it was time to switch off her life-support machine.
“We had a blessing a first and on January 17 she passed away peacefully with me, her sister, Lauren, and dad, Scott, 41, at her bedside.”
The family held her funeral 17 days later and are now doing all they can to set a charity up in Chelsea’s name.
Her sister, Lauren added: “We were an extremely close family and we are determined to keep her memory alive by creating a charity.
“The more people that recognise HLH exists the better, we don’t know if this condition would have ever affected Chelsea if she hadn’t been unwell with tonsillitis and we hope this story illustrates how it can happen to anyone.”
To help the family raise £5k to set up Chelsea’s charity, visit: https://www.gofundme.com/chelseajacksonhlh