Photo-Features helped the family of Cerri publish her tragic health story. We made sure the tribute was told exactly the way they wanted. Read Cerri’s story below:
Tragedy of the beautiful 20year old killed by a deadly boil on her privates
Popping my head round the door I saw Cerri on Mum’s settee.
‘How’s the patient then?’ I said.
‘Feeling a bit better now,’ she smiled.
‘She’ll live,’ our mum Irene, 57, said plonking a cup of tea in front of us both.That morning, Cerri had woken up with a boil in a rather private place. So she’d called in sick to her job at Tesco’s at Mum had taken her to the doctor’s.
‘Honestly, I could hardly walk, Debs,’ she winced as she showed me the angry red lump nestled in her groin.
It better not ruin our holiday!’ I joked. We were jetting off for a big girly holiday in Ibiza at the end of the month.
‘No chance of that!’ Cerri beamed.
We’d been planning it for months. She’d never been before and Cerri was so excited.
Thankfully, the antibiotics sorted it out. By the time we hit the beach there was no sign of the boil. Cerri wore her bikini with pride as we sunbathed by the pool.
‘We’ve got to do this again next year,’ I sighed as we arrived back home a week later.
‘Next year I’m off to America with our Carl for my 21st! Cerri said.
Carl was our big brother and Cerri adored him.
But we’d only been back a few weeks when Cerri woke up with another boil in exactly the same place. Only this time it was even bigger – the size of a 2p piece – and throbbing with pus.
‘I don’t believe it,’ she groaned. ‘Not again.’
Mum took her to the walk-in centre that morning. The nurse looked worried, told Cerri to see her GP who referred her to hospital.
‘It’s a routine procedure,’ the doctor at the Royal Liverpool Hospital said, waving away Mum’s concerns. ‘Sit down on the bed, Cerri.’
And after the boil had been lanced and drained and swabs had been taken, the wound was cleaned and Cerri was sent home without antibiotics.
The next morning she went back to the walk-in clinic for a clean dressing. The wound looked red and sore and Cerri complained it was too painful to wear her favourite jeans, still it wasn’t about to stop her from going clubbing in Manchester with Carl and some friends.
‘Don’t worry, I’ll be fine,’ she said, swatting away my worries as she packed her weekend bag.
But later: ‘I really don’t feel that great,’ she confided in Carl when they arrived.
Still, determined not to ruin anyone’s weekend, Cerri slapped on a smile and off they went.
Come Sunday though, even she couldn’t put a brave face on it. Along with the gnawing pain in her groin, she started getting stomach cramps, diarrhea, and throwing up.
‘I think I’ve overdone it a bit,’ she groaned.
But this was far worse than a bad hangover. By the time they got back to Mum’s, Cerri felt so ill she went back to hospital. This time, they kept her in.
Nurses scurried about taking blood, carrying out scans and x-rays and given fluids and an antibiotic through a drip.
‘What’s wrong with her?’ I fretted.
The next day, the doctors told us that the results had revealed Cerri was fighting a blood infection and prescribed further antibiotics.
After a few days, Cerri was preliminary diagnosed with sepsis.
‘What’s that?’ I asked nervously. ‘How has she got it?’
Turns out it was a serious medical condition which can lead to multiple organ failure – but doctors weren’t sure what was causing it.
‘Please, you’ve got to help her,’ I begged.
But despite being fed antibiotics, Cerri just kept on getting worse…and worse. We all watched helplessly as her condition deteriorated.
After four days, she was put in intensive care.
‘Keep talking to her, she knows your here,’ the nurses urged.
One of us was with her at all times. She lived for her holidays so Carl talked about how he was going to take her to America for her 21st, the following July.
As for me, I’d chat to her about anything and everything…
‘You’ll have enough for a deposit for a flat soon,’ I prattled. ‘Then you can move out of Mum and Dad’s into your own place. It’ll be great. I’ll help you decorate.’
‘Hey, I’ll bring my photo album in tomorrow and we can look at those photos from Ibiza. Remember that night in the beach bar?!’
It was just like normal really, me rabbiting on. Only difference was, now she never answered back in her usual way, flashing me a cheeky smile.
‘You’ll be home soon,’ I told her. ‘And as soon as you’re out of here we’ll arrange a girls’ night out,’ I continued. ‘Maybe we’ll go and see Lady Gaga. You had such a good time last time. You can straighten my hair for me and I might even borrow those boots of yours again!’
After each conversation I’d scan her face. But there was nothing, not a blink of an eyelid, a hint of a smile.
And as the days turned into weeks, we had to accept she was getting worse. Her wonderful smile that could light up a room began to fade. Her beautiful features were swollen with illness. Her body was failing. The machines were the only thing keeping her alive.
‘You might want to think about turning off her life support and looking into palative care,’ her consultant said gently.
‘But she’s 20 years old,’ Carl said. ‘Surely she’s got to be given a chance?’
They didn’t agree.
We talked about getting a court injunction to overturn their decision but Cerri had her own ideas. She started fitting, was sent for a brain scan.
We prayed for a miracle but: ‘If there’s anyone else you want to be here, you should call them now,’ the nurse said.
We took it in turns to hold her hands. I brushed her long blonde hair.
And three weeks after she was first admitted, Cerri died from multiple organ failure in the early hours of September 25.
Devastated doesn’t even to begin to describe it. As the pain numbed my brain, I ripped down the religious pictures mum, a regular churchgoer had placed above Cerri’s bed.
‘He didn’t help her, did he?’ I wept. ‘He didn’t answer our prayers.’
I just couldn’t believe that was it – that my baby sister was gone.
I felt like I’d let her down. ‘I’m so sorry,’ I whispered as I kissed her goodbye for the last time. ‘I really thought you’d be coming home with us.’
The following day her consultant took us aside and explained Cerri had been fighting a bacterial infection called staphylococcal aureus (SA) sepsis – similar to MRSA. Although she’d eventually been given antibiotics she had a pre-existing liver condition called congenital hepatic fibrosis, which made her less likely to survive it.
But he then revealed swabs of the pus from the boil had showed it was infected with bacteria on the day she’d had it lanced… We couldn’t believe it. In that case, why hadn’t Cerri been called back to hospital when this was discovered so she could have received treatment?
Instead she’d gone off clubbing without a worry in the world when all the time her life was at risk.
‘Why didn’t they tell her,’ I wailed.
No one could say why.
‘She could have been saved,’ I sobbed.
Cerri’s funeral took place on 5th October. Over 300 people came to pay their respects to my little sister.But it didn’t give us closure. The consultant’s words kept going round and round in our heads and we had so many questions left unanswered.
‘We can’t just let this go,’ Carl fumed.
He wrote to the hospital, demanded answers.
Finally they agreed antibiotic therapy might have been appropriate at an earlier stage to prevent an infection taking hold. They also confirmed swab results taken when the abscess was removed, showing the presence of the bacterial infection, were available three days after the procedure but the hospital made no attempt to inform Cerri.
Doctors also suspected sepsis on the same day Cerri was admitted but there was a delay in giving her the antibiotics she was subsequently prescribed.
Medics should have known she had a bacterial infection because of the result from the wound swab and moved her to intensive care sooner.
In its report, the hospital said antibiotics were not given to Cerri after the abscess was removed because her wound was “clean” and not inflamed, but one doctor admitted because Cerri had suffered an abscess in the same spot before, “antibiotic therapy” may have been appropriate.
So they’d finally admitted it. More could have been done. And if it, there was a chance that we might still have Cerri with us.
But it was too painful to think what might have been. Instead, we decided to make sure that Cerri didn’t die in vain. The hospital promised to learn from her death and put new procedures in place to make sure such a tragedy never happens again.
We decided to do the same, raising more than £3000 to pay for information leaflets about sepsis to be distributed at the hospital. And we’re working with a consultant to create an I-phone app for all junior doctors to learn about SA, the signs and treatment.
Still, five months on, we still can’t believe Cerri was killed by a boil. Unsightly? Yes. Uncomfortable? Yes. But life-threatening? I’d never have believed it. But it’s true. And now my gorgeous baby sister is dead.