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Walsall sepsis team helps Strictly star

2023-08-30T16:07:22+01:00Wednesday 30 August 2023|

Strictly Come Dancing star Amy Dowden has spoken of her battle with sepsis – after being treated by Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust’s specialist team.

The popular BBC star, who also runs a ballroom and Latin dance school in the Black Country, has shared her story in the latest edition of HELLO! magazine.

The 33-year-old, from Caerphilly, has had a tough few months with her health. In May, she was diagnosed with stage three breast cancer and had to undergo a mastectomy and it was earlier this month that she was diagnosed with sepsis. She also has Crohn’s disease.

Sepsis is a life-threatening reaction to an infection. It happens when your immune system overreacts to an infection and starts to damage your body’s own tissues and organs.

After Amy had received her first round of chemotherapy on 3 August, she started to feel unwell a couple days later.

The professional ballroom and Latin dancer told the magazine: “I wasn’t feeling too bad on the day, just sick, but a couple of hours later I started having a temperature of 37.7 degrees Celsius.

“At the time, I didn’t realise that having a temperature of 37.5 or above could be fatal for a chemo patient. I just thought it was my reaction to chemo, but as it turned out, I had already got an infection.”

She felt better and managed to go for a walk with her dad Richard, who came to visit with her mum Gillian, on 5 August. But after she returned from the walk, things started to go downhill.

Her mum said: “Amy’s symptoms got worse very, very quickly. At one point she felt ok, then suddenly she felt very ill – it happened in an instant. I noticed she was breathless and complaining of a pain in her chest.

Gillian and Richard rang their daughter’s red card which provides the Chemotherapy Team’s contact details and current treatment information and staff told them to hang up and ring an ambulance which they did.

West Midlands Ambulance Service paramedics were soon on the scene. After conducting a thorough examination, they advised Amy to go straight to hospital.

She was taken to Walsall Manor Hospital where she was treated for a viral infection with an antibiotic drip. At 3am, when Amy was stable, her mum returned home, but the family received a shock later that morning when Amy’s husband Ben phoned the hospital for an update. It was then they were told that Amy was being treated for sepsis.

They rushed to the hospital and when they arrived, they were updated by a Doctor, who told them that Amy was being treated by Walsall Healthcare’s Sepsis and Outreach Response Team (SORT) and that her blood pressure was dangerously low.

Gillian said: “We didn’t know what to do with ourselves, everything was looking very serious. What I couldn’t believe is how quick the situation can change and how little time you have to respond.

After a change in the type of antibiotics she was being given, Amy started to show signs of improvement.

Amy, whose memory of her time in hospital is hazy, added: “The doctors and nurses were telling me I had sepsis and that it was life-threatening, but I wasn’t taking it in. I didn’t become properly aware until later. I told my dad: ‘I’ve got sepsis’ and he said: ‘I know!’.”

After continued improvement, the dancer was able to return home on 8 August.

A further set-back saw Amy spend her 33rd birthday on 10 August back in hospital following a rise in her temperature, but since then, she has been on the mend at home.

She said: “We are so lucky to have every single individual and department in the NHS. From my Breast Care Team, to the paramedics, to those who help me with my Crohn’s – everybody does an exceptional job, especially considering the pressure they’re under at the moment.”

Amy Blakemore, Senior Sister with SORT, said: “The team would like to wish Amy all the best. By sharing her story she is helping to raise awareness of sepsis among communities and how important it is to act quickly.”

Amy’s full story is in HELLO! Magazine here.

*BBC image of Strictly star Amy Dowden

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