From the South West News Service website, 11 April 2013.
A 17-year-old girl died from a rare form of leukaemia – just 10 DAYS after doctors sent her home saying she was suffering from tonsillitis and TIREDNESS.
Sophie Coldwell was also diagnosed with inflamed gums and chronic fatigue syndrome when she went to NHS walk-in centre on March 7 this year.
Her parents put her symptoms down to being in her first year of college but realised something was drastically wrong when her breathing became shallow and rasping on March 16.
They called an ambulance but tragically Sophie lost consciousness on the way to hospital and never recovered.
She was rushed to Solihull Hospital before being transferred to Heartlands Hospital but died at 12.40am on March 17 from suspected acute monoblastic myeloid leukaemia.
A consultant told her devastated parents Andy and Sherry, both 46, he had never seen the rare and extreme form of leukaemia kill someone so quickly.
Devastated dad Andy, a manager at Jaguar Land Rover, said he hoped the suddenness of Sophie’s death would help save lives in the future.
He said: “Sophie wasn’t feeling that well. She couldn’t eat because her mouth was that sore. She had a tough ten days, really.
“She felt tired. At the time, we put that down to it being her first year in college, it was longer hours.
“It didn’t really raise any concerns at the time.
“The two main things she was being treated for were tonsillitis and gingivitis inflamed gums, which on their own are everyday viruses.
“The problem is the reason why those viruses were being brought on was leukaemia.
“As a father, I question everything I did and whether any more could have been done.
“The fact it took everybody by surprise doesn’t mean you still don’t do that as parents.
“The consultant said teams would learn from this because of how aggressive and quickly it happened.
“The thought Sophie is going to help people now because of this probably summarises her quite adequately.”
Mum Sherry, a receptionist at a doctor’s surgery, added: “She was okay on Saturday morning (16/3), taking her medication.
“It was only in the evening that her breathing changed we thought maybe she was having a panic attack.
“The consultant said he had never seen anything so aggressive. How quickly it happened was just something he had not seen before.”
Sophie’s sister Katie, 14, penned a poignant letter to her sister which was included in the order of service at her funeral.
She wrote: “Your life was only just beginning, there is so much that you’re going to miss out on, but I know that you will be watching over me and making sure that I make the right decisions, which is all I can ask from you.
“I hope that you are okay up there and I bet you’re still saying ‘Get out of my room’.
“One day, we will be together again. I just wish that I was there to say goodbye.”
Sophie, who went from Lyndon School to Solihull Sixth Form College, lived with her parents and younger sister in Yardley, Birmingham.
She had been with her boyfriend Matt Robinson, 18, since November last year and her family said she was at her ‘happiest’ with him.
Matt, who lives in Kings Heath, Birmingham, knew Sophie was ill but didn’t realise how serious her condition was.
In a moving last text to his girlfriend, he wrote: “You’ve gone from a girl I added on Facebook to being my life, my heart, my soul, my world, my rock, my shoulder, my everything.
“You’re just amazing. Everything about you is stunning, from your smile to your eyes, from your hair to your half-painted nails, from your freckles on top of your shoulders to the freckles on your forehead my perfection.”
Dad Andy said: “We’re struggling to come to terms with it at the moment.
“Every day is a struggle and that’s really down to how quickly it happened. It’s taken a while for us to get our heads around.
“We have had really fantastic support from family, friends and Sophie’s friends, who are taking Katie out and promise to look after her.
“She met Matt in November. I’m a typical father but Matt, right from the start, hit it off with Sophie and with us.
“From a dad point-of-view, he ticked all the boxes straight away. You could almost see the connection they had.”
Sherry added: “She was happy, she was only 17 so she hadn’t had many boyfriends.
“With Matt she was the happiest I’d ever seen her and very content.”