Bedford woman who had coronavirus praises NHS staff who saved her life after she developed sepsis

Caroline wants to use her experience to raise awareness of sepsis

By Holly Patel
Tuesday, 21st July 2020, 10:21 am
Updated Wednesday, 22nd July 2020, 1:21 pm

A woman from Bedford who had a quadruple amputation wants to use her experience to raise awareness of sepsis, a life-threatening reaction to an infection.

Caroline Coster, 58, caught coronavirus in March, after recovering she ended up in Bedford Hospital with sepsis.

After recovering from Covid-19, she was diagnosed with a chest infection and went to hospital, it was discovered she had developed sepsis, a life-threatening reaction to infection which causes vital organs to shut down.

Caroline and her daughter Hannah have praised the NHS staff who saved her life

The Henlow Academy teacher spent almost a month in a medically induced coma, doctors performed a sedation hold, and miraculously, Caroline's kidneys, blood pressure and other vitals all started to heal.

Because she has been unwell for so long, and the combination of Disseminated Intravascular Coagulation caused by sepsis and the vasopressors they had her on to redirect her limited blood flow to her brain and vital organs had caused her hands and feet to turn black and die, and they had to be amputated.

Caroline has described the last few months as 'incredible', she said: "They have been incredible in so many ways.

"Life changing, of course, in terms of my illness and subsequent surgeries, but I have felt enveloped and supported by love - from family and friends; from colleagues, pupils, past pupils and parents at Henlow Academy where I have taught for the past 20 years; from colleagues in wider education; from complete strangers; from the wonderful staff at Bedford hospital and most of all from God."

Caroline wants to register her dog as a pets as therapy dog

Hannah said: "Obviously I wish this hadn’t happened and I was distressed during the period she was fighting for her life and when we found out about the amputations, but I’m so proud of how she’s handled this life changing event.

"Seeing her embrace the changes and work hard to continue to build a full life and to continue helping others makes me so proud and makes me determined to continue to work hard for the same things.

"It’s been amazing to see her strength of character come out, and see people be inspired by that strength.

"It’s also been wonderful to see all the people she’s helped, the students, the charity work, everything she goes above and beyond to do, pay off and have people come out to support her."

Caroline wants to use her experience to raise awareness of sepsis

Hannah has praised the NHS staff who looked after her mum and saved her life.

She said: "It’s hard to put into words what it means that they didn’t give up on her.

"The odds were all against my Mum at a time when they were stretched incredibly thin, and we wouldn’t have blamed them for withdrawing care which they nearly had to.

"But despite the poor odds they carried on giving round the clock care and fighting to save her.

"So thank you for doing your best in every individual circumstance: in this case, it enabled me to get my Mum back."

Caroline is settling in well at rehab and has an electric chair and can move independently.

She has been assessed for upper limb prosthetics and the staff at the rehab centre are very optimistic about making her sewing hands and are looking at options already.

Caroline added: "After rehab I hope to use the gift of time I have been given to help others.

"I’m intending to register our dog Duke as a pets as therapy dog so I can take him into Henlow Academy and Howard ward at Bedford Hospital.

"I also want to return to fundraising for Make a Difference schools Mombasa with my sewing."

A fundraising page has been set up to raise £40,000 to provide funding for adaptations.

On the JustGiving page, it says: "Caroline is a quadruple amputee and sepsis survivor who requires funding for vital equipment to ensure she can live a happy independent life.

"Money raised will go towards lots of things, such as adaptations around the home to enable her to move around easily and reach objects, a phone that she can unlock with face recognition with a larger screen, a bathroom that she can use independently, private hand prosthetics and mobility aids.

"There are many more things that we cannot list as if we did, the list would be enormous and doubtless exclude things we haven't thought of yet!"