Mother-of-two Julianna Bransden, 44, was living a “happy healthy life” until a sudden illness left her fighting for her life.
Ms Bransden first began experiencing flu-like symptoms on New Year’s Eve a few days after celebrating a big Christmas with her family. After going to bed to try and rest, her husband described her “falling off a cliff” after deteriorating so badly her heart stopped.
“Julianna’s husband Tim called 111 and they told him to keep giving her paracetamol but when was no better he called an ambulance,” Julianna’s mother Linda Burgess told The Independent.
“I actually lost my sister-in-law to something very similar so we were very aware that people can get ill quite quickly.”
Ms Burgess said she received an urgent call to come and look after her grandchildren 14-year-old Emilia and 11-year-old William, while Tim was rushed to the hospital with Julianna.
From there, Julianna spent 18 days in a coma with doctors working around the clock to treat her for septic shock, two cardiac arrests and multiple organ failure.
When Julianna eventually came around, she suffered severe damage to her hands and feet and had both legs amputated from sepsis as a result of an aggressive form of pneumonia brought on by influenza.
“It was a total shock,” Ms Burgess said. “We had never realised the extent of the damage that sepsis could cause and that it could be caused by influenza and Strep A.”
“Now you look back and it all seems like a blur.”
Ms Burgess praised her daughter’s bravery in the face of the “devastating” illness. She added that Julianna has “continued to smile at every step.”
“She has amazed all the medical staff because she has continued to be strong, resilient, and accepting of everything. She just smiles.”
Julianna is currently being treated at Withybush Hospital having only left intensive care earlier this month.
“She was able to speak straight away. She was very weak, you could just about hear her but we were so relieved she came out of it and was able to recognise and communicate with us,” Ms Burgess told The Independent.
“It wasn’t until some time after she woke up that the extent of the sepsis was explained. We were devastated.
“Her hands were badly affected but her feet were causing the problem and it was going to compromise all her organs if we weren’t careful so we made the wise decision to amputate and once that source of infection was gone she began to pick up.”
Sepsis is a common and potentially life-threatening condition triggered by an infection.
A sepsis infection can start anywhere in the body and can occur after chest or water infections, abdomen problems – such as burst ulcers – or even from cuts and bites.
It is caused by the way the body responds to germs, such as bacteria. The body’s response to an infection may injure its own tissues and organs.