A mum says her whole life was destroyed by a devastating stroke she suffered as a result of an emergency C-section.
Samantha Wilkinson, 37, claims she was not examined by hospital staff for an hour, and now suffers from epilepsy, chronic headaches and reliant on a wheelchair.
She was rushed to Royal Albert Edward Infirmary in Wigan as she went into labour with her third child in 2010.
Samantha suffered the stroke during the C-section, during which her bladder was cut open, rendering her incontentinent.
She has nighttime seizures and has been hospitalised twice from her headaches.
This year, Samantha began a course of monthly injections at Royal Bolton Hospital to induce menopause so that she can't become pregnant and risk her life.
And when she was diagnosed with Stage III chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in 2017 she tried to commit suicide.
Her husband Darren, 45, gave up his job as a lorry driver to care for Samantha and their son Billy, eight, who has severe autism.
Darren himself developed PTSD and depression.
The Wilkinsons now receive less than £20,000 a year to provide for Samantha’s and Billy’s needs – and from this income they continue to pay tax and bills.
Samantha said her priority now is to make as many women as possible aware that C-sections can lead to serious health complications – or death.
“I can’t even explain how all this makes me feel,” Samantha said.
“I just know I’m not going to see what most people get to see.
“I’m not going to see my children grow up. or make sure Billy gets the help he'll need as he gets older – and I’m not going to meet my grandchildren.
“I’m not going to see the help that Billy will need as he gets older – I will not be able to make sure that he gets himself looked after.
“I’m on oxygen every night now – I just exist, at the moment.
“I want to make people aware that going in for a C-section is not what it seems.
“You don’t read anywhere about the fact that you could have a stroke – they can ruin your life in an instant, they can ruin everything for you.
“These women who choose to have C-sections don't realise what they’re doing.
“They’re so bloody stupid.”
Samantha was rushed to Wigan Infirmary on 28-29 August with her third child Billy, but was taken into the operating theatre to have an emergency C-section at 9.28am.
During the procedure, Samantha, then 29, had a massive stroke, as blood from one of her arteries bled vociferously into her brain.
Samantha, who didn’t smoke or drink during her pregnancy, and who had previously been active and healthy, said her blood pressure went through the roof.
The whole left side of her body became instantly paralysed, but she and Darren were told by nursing staff that what appeared to be a debilitating stroke was just the anaesthetic wearing off, Samantha claimed.
Samantha was eventually taken to an intensive care unit, when her mother Debbie, 59, and Darren were told that a lemon-sized pocket had filled with blood in her frontal lobe.
To this day, Samantha has a dark patch from where the stroke bruised her brain.
The doctors predicted she had a 50-50 chance of making it through the next 48 hours, and only a 20 percent chance of walking again if she survived.
Her family gathered in the care unit as the vicar gave Samantha her last rites, where Darren planned for a future without his near-catatonic wife.
“I remember the anaesthetist was standing by me during the C-section, and he just went off – he knew my blood pressure was high because I was bleeding from the incision.
“And bear in mind that I wasn’t smoking and I wasn’t drinking either, because of the pregnancy, and I had nothing wrong with me.
“I don’t think that I’m going to be able to get any answers or make someone accountable for what they did to me.”
A spokesperson for Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust confirmed that Samantha's solicitors had requested her medical records in 2010, but that the case was closed five years later when no further requests were made.
“Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust can confirm that in 2010, we received a request from a solicitor acting on behalf of Ms Wilkinson with regard to providing copies of her medical records,” a statement read.
“As per the request we provided copies of Ms Wilkinson’s medical records.
We did not hear anything further from the solicitor and the case was closed in 2015.”
A doctor's note sent to Stephensons Solicitors LLP during the investigation implied the hospital staff operating on Samantha misheard instructions to give her ephedrine, a stimulant used to lower blood pressure during spinal anesthesia – and instead administered her with adrenaline, or epinephrine.
It read: “I have encountered – rarely – patients with surprisingly exaggerated responses to small doses of vasopressor.
“However – and this is mere speculation – I just wonder if in this case adrenaline might have been administered in error, instead of ephedrine.
“Both BP and heart rate 'overshot' considerably.
“The recommended International Nonproprietary Name for adrenaline is epinephrine. The names epinephrine and ephedrine are easy to confuse.”
After two days, Samantha was moved into another private ward for a fortnight where she was fitted with a urinary catheter and had a tube inserted into her stomach.
But when staff took her catheter out, they discovered that she had become incontinent because her bladder had been cut open during the c section.
Samantha was told that she would be mostly wheelchair-bound for the rest of her life – though she also uses a zimmer frame when she is at home.
She was discharged after a week’s physiotherapy and rehabilitation, where she went back home, which had been readapted to provide for her needs.
The house is equipped with a stair lift, door rails, and a commode chair.
But the stroke destroyed Samantha’s life.
She has severe uncontrolled epilepsy caused by the stroke – and has to sleep downstairs away from Darren because she has frequent nighttime fits.
Samantha said she now has seizures once a week, and has been hospitalised after falling down the stairs whilst in the throes of a violent seizure.
She has chronic headaches that she treats with morphine when they're severe enough – and once tried banging her head on the wall to make the pain go away.
She’s also too high-risk to bear any more children, and is now going through induced menopause – aged 37 – because she can’t have a hysterectomy.
Samantha developed arthritis – which is believed to have been caused by using her zimmer frame every day for nearly eight years.
But when she was diagnosed with Stage III COPD – a term describing lung diseases including emphysema and chronic bronchitis – Samantha tried to commit suicide.
She called her daughter-in-law Jayne, 22, who came straight to Samantha’s house and dialled 111, where paramedics told Samantha to go to hospital.
Darren took her to Wigan Infirmary, where staff said she’d have to wait seven hours.
“They said to me the overdose that I took was enough to make me sleepy but not enough to kill me, so I was in such a state that Darren drove me home."
She and Darren have one other child together – Kieran, now aged 19.
But their youngest Billy was diagnosed with severe autism after Samantha and her husband were warned at Billy’s first annual checkup that he could be at risk.
Billy has the mental age of a four-year-old, and doesn't talk very much – though he does have tourettes, and can become violent at a moment's notice.
He also can’t be taken into public places because he has a sensory impairment which could cause him to meltdown if riled up at the shops or on the playground.
And her husband Darren was diagnosed with PTSD and depression on 1 April 2019 from the pressures of caring for both his wife and his severely ill son.
“The fact is the COPD is killing me and I’m going to die because of it – and having to deal with that has sent my husband into depression,” Samantha said.
“He came in one day after being at the doctors, and he sat at the end of the sofa and started crying – he’s on medication now.”
The Wilkinsons, who can't afford to take out a loan, now live on £19,920 worth of benefits per year – from which they pay council tax and bills.
Of that, Darren gets £8,960 income support each year – or £320 every fortnight.
For Billy, Samantha and Darren receive £100 a week.
And Samantha gets £5,760 a year – of which £2,160 automatically goes towards a custom mobility car that Darren drives to transport Samantha and her wheelchair.
Every month, Samantha receives just £300.
She said it was humiliating to apply for benefits, having had “good money” with Darren’s salary – though her great fear is that someone could decide Samantha's not "disabled enough" to qualify for a disability allowance.
“If we don’t get the benefits in July, everything will stop – that’ll be it.
“That’s when it would all end for me, because then I’d have nothing left.”
All Samantha wants, she said, is an electric wheelchair.
“What would having an electric wheelchair mean to me?
“Freedom – to be able to move. To be happy. To be free.”
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