A brave mother who had 4 limbs amputated and was given a 5% chance of surviving after contracting sepsis admits she “wished she was dead” because of the illness.
In February last year, 56-year-old Allison Friday, from Hartlepool, County Durham, was put into a coma and her family was told to brace for the worst after she fell ill all of a sudden.
The former drugs trial manager had meningococcal septicaemia, where bacteria goes into the blood stream, damages blood vessels and causes bleeding into the skin and organs. This triggered sepsis, a life-threatening response to infection that could cause organ failure and death.
The woman remarkably survived the sepsis despite doctors’ dim expectations and spent 14 months in hospital, but she is learning how to walk again after having both her legs and arms amputated.
She is now looking forward to life with her partner David Richardson, 55, and 3 children, but admits there were several moments of despair when the illness struck, when she wished she was dead.
After taking her first steps in the Easter sunshine, Allison is determined to raise awareness for sepsis, saying: “We’ve endured 14 months of highly emotional events that have tested our family to their absolute limits – ones you never think you’ll experience.”
“But now I’m looking to raise awareness of the devastating impact of sepsis. It strikes at random and is more common than people think. I’d like to show what amputees must go through,” she said.
Last month, Allison managed to walk 40 yards outside her house, which she said has spurred her on to build a future with David, her sons, aged 24 and 22, and David’s 24-year-old daughter.
“People are often saying I’m an inspiration for reaching that far – but I just had to do it. You just have to,” she said.
Allison and her partner David, who has been furloughed since December from his job as an aviation ground operations manager, have also launched a GoFundMe page to help her regain her independence.
They are asking kind strangers to help raise £25,000 towards the £40,000 they need for specialist equipment, including Cyborg-like Star Wars stormtrooper hands, similar to those seen in video games.
“Arm manufacturers have hooked up with Disney and Marvel to get permission to make replicas of Cyborg arms. They are great, but they cost £15,000,” Allison said.
On January 31, 2020, Allison was looking forward to starting a new job and going on her dream holiday to Croatia when she went to sleep that evening.
But less than 24 hours later, the mother had entered a coma and her family were tragically told she only had a 5% chance of survival.
When the woman first started feeling groggy on January 31 last year, she thought she was developing flu but the next morning could not get out of bed and found a rash on her legs, arms and buttocks.
David immediately came home from work and took her straight to University Hospital of North Tees, in Stockton-on-Tees, County Durham.
Her work as a clinical project manager on unregistered medicines and past work as a chemist meant Allison already suspected the redness could be a sign of meningitis.
But doctors diagnosed meningococcal septicaemia, which then triggered sepsis, and Allison was told her “only hope” of survival was being put into a coma, which doctors did at 9pm on February 1.