A DAD-of-two suffering flu nearly died after his throat infection triggered sepsis.
Matt Cooper went to see a doctor after he began suffering chronic diarrhoea and aching muscles.
A GP told the 43-year-old he was suffering a virus, but later that night he developed a rash and dialled NHS 111, who called for an ambulance.
As paramedics arrived, Matt collapsed and tests revealed he had caught the potentially deadly group A strep bacteria.
Doctors warned his wife, Victoria he may not pull through.
But after two weeks in intensive care he defied the odds to survive.
Matt, from Long Ashton, in Bristol, said: “I knew I was unwell but didn’t think it was anything serious. I thought it was probably the flu.
“I knew nothing about sepsis before it happened to me.
“I knew that I was sicker than I had ever been before but I still didn’t think I was seriously ill.”
When he spotted the rash in the middle of the night, Matt said he didn’t dial 999 because he didn’t think it was an emergency.
But when paramedics arrived they immediately recognised the dad-of-two was seriously ill.
His wife Victoria stayed behind to organise friends to look after the couple’s kids, Benjamin, seven, and Olivia, one.
“I phoned the hospital to see if he was on a ward, and they said, ‘he’s in resuscitation. If he makes it, he will be in intensive care’,” she recalled.
“I said, ‘what do you mean IF’?
“He was so close (to death). It was quite scary.”
After medics were able to stabilise Matt, he was taken to intensive care where he was put into a medically induced coma.
Matt recalled: “I had a few terrifying dreams while I was in a coma.
“I didn’t really know where I was or why I was there but felt I had to escape.”
Before his ordeal, Matt was clueless when it came to sepsis, also known as blood poisoning.
He said he’s surprised how common the condition is, and is “more surprised by how little awareness many people have of it”.
“I certainly didn’t think it could be caused from a minor throat infection,” he said.
Victoria agreed, she said she had “no idea how many people are affected by sepsis”.
“I thought you got blood poisoning from a rusty nail or something,” she said.
“I had no idea it could mask itself as a virus.
“A lot of people with sepsis think they have a really severe case of food poisoning or flu.”
But she warned: “Every single hour is critical, he was a couple of hours away from not making it.”
Doctors warned Victoria her husband was at risk of sepsis developing into multiple organ failure, a sure sign of death.
“The message is, even if you have been told that you are okay, if you think there is something wrong you can’t wait,” she said.
“You have got to keep asking. Just ask, ‘could this be sepsis’?”
After six days in a coma, doctors brought Matt round, and he continued to be looked after in intensive care for two weeks before he was able to start rehab.
While he suffers short-term memory loss and brain fog, and gets tired very easily, Matt has survived his brush with sepsis almost unscathed.
He can’t work full time yet, and said he’s aware many sepsis survivors suffer long-term physical and psychological symptoms.
“I know that I was lucky to survive,” he said.
And Victoria added: “It has been a rollercoaster. We just don’t want anyone else to go through that.
“It really was life and death those first few days just from something as simple as a throat infection.”
The couple are sharing their story to raise awareness of the condition.
“It breaks my heart that it’s so common and so few people know about it,” Victoria said.
“So many people die needlessly when it can be treated.
“Be aware and make your relatives aware of what it is.
“If there is any doubt in your mind, even just a niggle, ask a medical professional.
“It’s something that can come on so rapidly.”
Health experts this year said killer sepsis must be treated with antibiotics within one hour to help save lives.
Last week another sepsis survivor revealed he will lose both his legs after developing blood poisoning from a dog scratch.
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