Twin’s heartbreak as identical sister, 16, dies from sepsis

Twin’s heartbreak as identical sister, 16, dies from sepsis as she waited TWO HOURS for life-saving equipment to be flown from 150 miles away

  • Lucy Ellis was rushed to hospital after going to her GP feeling unwell
  • Her twin sister Sophie fainted when she heard the news her sister had died
  • Lucy’s family are calling for specialist sepsis equipment across UK hospitals
  • Such equipment had to be flown from London to Royal Gwent Hospital, Newport 
  • Wales Government spokesperson said such requests are not ‘practical’ 
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A twin has revealed her heartbreak after her identical sister died from sepsis just six hours after suffering from flu-like symptoms.

Lucy Ellis, 16, was immediately rushed to hospital after going to her GP complaining of feeling unwell.

The teenager, who represented Wales in gymnastics, later passed away in hospital, with her twin Sophie fainting at the tragic news.

Lucy’s family are calling out for specialist blood-filtering equipment to be available in hospitals across the country.

The teenager’s treatment at the Royal Gwent Hospital in Newport was delayed by two hours while she waited for such equipment to be flown 150 miles from London.

Sepsis kills around 44,000 people year in the UK. Also known as blood poisoning, it affects more than a million adults in the US annually, with up to 30 per cent of patients dying.  

Teenager Lucy Ellis died from sepsis just six hours after suffering from flu-like symptoms

Her twin sister Sophie (left) fainted when she heard the tragic news Lucy (right) had passed

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Sepsis, also known as blood poisoning, occurs when the body reacts to an infection by attacking its own organs and tissues.

Some 44,000 people die from sepsis every year in the UK. Worldwide, someone dies from the condition every 3.5 seconds. 

Sepsis has similar symptoms to flu, gastroenteritis and a chest infection.

These include:

  • Slurred speech or confusion
  • Extreme shivering or muscle pain
  • Passing no urine in a day
  • Severe breathlessness
  • It feels like you are dying
  • Skin mottled or discoloured

Symptoms in children are:

  • Fast breathing
  • Fits or convulsions
  • Mottled, bluish or pale skin
  • Rashes that do not fade when pressed
  • Lethargy
  • Feeling abnormally cold

Under fives may be vomiting repeatedly, not feeding or not urinating for 12 hours. 

Anyone can develop sepsis but it is most common in people who have recently had surgery, have a urinary catheter or have stayed in hospital for a long time.

Other at-risk people include those with weak immune systems, chemotherapy patients, pregnant women, the elderly and the very young.

Treatment varies depending on the site of the infection but involves antibiotics, IV fluids and oxygen, if necessary.

Source: UK Sepsis Trust and NHS Choices

‘She wanted to leave this life knowing she made a difference’

Sophie said: ‘Lucy was such a beautiful young lady, but as she was my identical twin I knew she [was] beautiful in every way.

‘I will always love my twin, we were born together and even though we’re not dying together I will carry my life on like she would want me too, I will do her proud.’

After being given antibiotics in hospital, Lucy, who dreamed of being a doctor, underwent blood tests, X-rays and a CT scan, which showed fluid around her heart and led to her diagnosis. 

Her father Neil Ellis, 45, said: ‘It all really went downhill in the space of six hours when it went from just simple cold/flu symptoms to what we now know was sepsis.’ 

‘Lucy was a special girl that has touched many people’s lives in the short time of her life.

‘She was the most athletic person I knew and seeing her progress was amazing.

‘I’ll never forget a conversation we at an international gymnastics competition in Turin last year.

‘She said she wanted to leave this life knowing she had made a difference. Little did she and the family know this difference would be in her death.’

Sophie (right with Lucy on their 16th birthday) said her twin was ‘beautiful in every way’

Sophie (left) said she will ‘always love’ Lucy and will live her life as her sister would want her to

Waiting two hours for treatment is ‘not acceptable’

Speaking of his mission to make blood-filtering equipment more widely available, Mr Ellis said: ‘Having to wait two hours for a specialist team and equipment is just not acceptable.

‘Teams currently have to travel from these different centres in England to provide portable specialised treatment, at great expense, which can take hours.

‘I personally feel Wales should have a facility in Cardiff, irrespective of how big a population is required to justify it. How can you put a price on any life?

‘Having one in Wales will prevent significant delay and in my opinion save lives.’

The girls’ father said Lucy (right) touched many people’s lives during her short life

The teen’s treatment was delayed while specialist equipment was flown 150 miles 

Not enough sepsis patients to make equipment ‘practical’ 

A Welsh Government spokesperson said: ‘Wales’ efforts to improve the prevention, diagnosis and early treatment of sepsis have received international recognition.

‘We were the first country in the world to implement a system to ensure early escalation of patients seen to be deteriorating and recent figures suggest the mortality figures associated with sepsis have decreased.

‘Welsh patients receive ECMO (extracorporeal membrane oxygenation) treatment at Glenfield, Leicester, one of only four highly specialised centres in the UK providing ECMO for adults.

‘Currently there are not enough patients in Wales requiring ECMO per year to make a centre in Wales practicable.’

ECMOs deliver oxygen to patients’ blood and have been shown to be effective in severe sepsis.  

In a tribute, Welsh Gymnastics said: ‘Lucy’s dedication to the sport was second to none and she was a true professional. 

‘She made some very close friendships whilst taking part in a sport that she loved.’

Scans revealed she had fluid around her heart but Lucy could not be treated for two hours 

Lucy represented Wales at gymnastics and has been described as a ‘true professional’

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