A “ticking time-bomb” mum who went to the doctors for a new inhaler was released from hospital a fortnight later following two lifesaving operations to remove a giant blood clot.
Frances Garrington, of Corbar Road, Buxton, made an appointment with Stewart Medical Centre at the beginning of February thinking her shortness of breath was down to asthma.
However quick-thinking medical staff realised she needed urgent care and she was sent to Stepping Hill Hospital.
The 26-year-old said: “I was told my blood pressure was sky high and I had a possible infection around my heart. I was so scared, I didn’t know what was happening.”
Scans and tests revealed Frances had a blood clot that started in her right calf and had travelled to the main artery in the groin, however she had no symptoms and it could easily have been missed.
“I could be dead now if I had been sent home,” she said. “I owe my life to the doctor and nurse who saw me at the surgery.”
The clot in her leg had already started to break up and made its way into both of her lungs. Her leg swelled up by 3kgs and turned black - due to the severity of her situation she was transferred to Wythenshawe Hospital.
Frances said: “My mum and dad were on holiday in Africa and my partner Ian and my brother and sister didn’t want to ruin their holiday and kept putting off telling them, but Ian said he had rehearsed what to say to tell them their daughter had died, it was that bad.
“Doctors said I was a ticking time-bomb. I was so scared, thinking every day was going to be my last.”
Frances is a carer for her four-year-old daughter Imogen who has autism, and during the stay in hospital she missed her birthday party. Imogen was told her mum was just having a sleep-over at the hospital.
Frances was awake for the first operation as she had live surgery, and doctors went in through her neck and put and a filter in her stomach to stop more of the clot travelling up to her lungs.
“It was so traumatic,” she said. “I could see my lungs on the TV screen as the doctors cut me open.”
The clot in her leg was getting bigger, so the next day surgeons operated again to remove it and Frances was put to sleep. While in surgery, the artery collapsed so Frances has permanent springs and inflated balloons in her leg to prevent it happening again.
She added: “I could have died, but I am still here. Everyone takes their health for granted, but you only get one body and it is so precious.”
“We were just doing our job”
When Frances arrived at Stewart Medical Centre, she was first seen by nurse Caroline Hince who then contacted Dr Justin Walker and the pair decided she needed to go to hospital.
Dr Walker said: “When we saw Frances we knew something was wrong. It is very touching she wants to thank us for saving her life, but we are just doing our job and a small cog in the process.
“Frances had very serious surgery and I hope she recovers well.”