Pregnant, poisoned and paralysed: Mum of two struck down by severe blood poisoning just days after giving birth makes miraculous recovery
A mum-of-two who was struck down with life threatening blood poisoning just days after giving birth has made a miraculous recovery – despite doctors fearing she may not survive.
Samantha Cousans, 31, from Sheffield, South Yorkshire, had just given birth to her youngest daughter when she fell ill with severe blood poisoning.
Doctors were forced to put the new mum into a medically induced coma, whilst her life lay hanging in the balance for 11 long days.
Despite waking up, Samantha was left paralysed due to the loss of muscle function after being in a coma for so long.
But remarkably, Samantha managed to recover and is now enjoying being a mother to daughters Olivia Grace, five, and baby Megan Rose, 18 months.
Samantha said: “After giving birth to Megan I was so excited to be at home, Olivia was so happy to have a baby sister and it should have been a wonderful time.
“But within days my health deteriorate rapidly.
“I felt sick all the time and was so weak – I couldn’t even hold Megan as she felt so heavy in my arms.
“When I eventually went to hospital my family were told I might not make it through the night, it was that serious.
“When I came around after my coma I couldn’t believe what was happening to me – and being paralysed was very scary.
“But my girls gave me the motivation to keep going and recover quickly, and my husband, Chris, was amazing.
“I’m so lucky – I was very close to losing my arms and legs – and even my life.
“I’m so glad I’m still here to be a mum for my girls.”
Samantha was suffering from sepsis – a life threatening blood poisoning that kills 37,000 people in the UK each year.
The poison was forcing her organs to fail and was causing necrosis – the death of body tissue – to her legs.
Doctors put Samantha into a medically induced coma whilst they worked to drain her body of the poison that was killing her.
Samantha said: “When I came around from the coma I knew something was wrong but I wasn’t totally sure.
“It was a huge shock to realise I couldn’t move.
“Because I’d been in a coma for so long I’d lost all the use of my muscles – I couldn’t even move my fingers.
“It was horrible because I still hadn’t held Megan properly, they just had to lie her next to me.
“I had to have five different skin graft operations on my legs too and then I had to learn to walk again.
“There was just so much to deal with.”
Samantha first became ill the evening after Megan was born.
Samantha said: “Megan was born early in the morning and by the evening I was at home.
“But I began to feel very weak and tired – not myself at all.
“Olivia had been born by C-section, so as I’d never gone through a natural birth before I wasn’t sure what to expect, I just thought that the way I was feeling was totally normal.
“But as the days wore on I was getting worse and worse.
“I was constantly thirsty and just totally exhausted – I could barely get out of bed.
“It was only when, six days later, a nurse came out to me, that she took one look at me and told me to get to the hospital immediately.
“Apparently the infection actually gives off a smell, and the nurse could smell it in my bedroom.
“I don’t remember much after that, but I know I was in a critical condition.
“I later found out that the doctors had caught me in what they call the ‘golden hour’ – the hour where they need to diagnose and treat me, or it’s too late.
“I was incredibly lucky.”
Doctors rushed Samantha into theatre where they worked to drain the body of poison.
She was then in a coma for 11 days whilst her body worked to recover.
Samantha said: “I was brought out of the coma after 11 days, but my journey was far from over.
“I was given five skin grafts on my legs where they’d cut away the dying tissue, and I then had to begin intensive physiotherapy to get my muscles working again.
“It was awful not being able to move – all I wanted to do was cuddle my girls and I couldn’t.
“I hated being away from them, I was worried all the time and I knew I was missing out on watching them grow up – especially with Megan.
“I finally saw them after three weeks, but even then I was worried they’d be scared by my appearance.
“Luckily they took it all in their stride and slowly I went from strength to strength.
“But finally after 11 weeks in hospital I stood up on my own for the very first time, and the doctors agreed that I could go home.
“I was still unwell but being at home with Chris and the girls was the best medicine I could have asked for.”
Now Samantha is recovered, and is keen to raise awareness of the condition that nearly stole her life.
Samantha said: “I still don’t know why I got sepsis, but it can happen to anyone at any time.
“I just want to make sure people are aware of the symptoms, and to get medical attention immediately.
“My story could have ended so differently, and I know I’m one of the lucky ones – many people don’t survive.
“I can’t thank the doctors and nurses who treated me enough, they saved my life.”
For more information on sepsis visit the UK Sepsis Trust at http://sepsistrust.org/.