'I thought I was going to die' Victoria's story of battling sepsis after being given less than 5% chance of survival

A young woman from Cardiff who nearly died after contracting sepsis says she feels lucky to be alive.

Victoria Gunstone shared her remarkable story of recovery with ITV Wales on World Sepsis Day.

In July last year, the 29-year-old from Cardiff spent six days in intensive care after being admitted to hospital with what she thought was sciatica.

"I was in bed with excruciating pain. I couldn't move and was being sick on myself.

"We called NHS direct and they sent paramedics out immediately.

"I was wheeled into hospital. I have no memory what happened after that until I woke up a week later"

Victoria spent six days in a coma at the University Hospital of Wales

Two days later, Victoria's health had not improved and she went into multiple organ failure. The doctors said she could die within the next twelve hours.

"My family were incredibly distressed", Victoria said.

"My body had crashed. I had double pneumonia and to be put into an induced coma to be put on a life support machine.

"As they were doing that I turned to my mum and said, 'I'm dying'.

"They were told to say their goodbyes. You can't even imagine how they must've felt. That's what upsets me now more than anything. The thought of my mum, my dad, my sister, my fiancé all losing someone - that's the most upsetting part for me."

Victoria and her partner Mike had got engaged two months earlier

Her family spent the next few days by her side in hospital where doctors fought to save her.

"They asked all my family every bit of medical history to try and work out how to treat me.

"The doctors tried all sorts of different drugs."

Miraculously, Victoria woke up six days later.

"I had booked a surprise trip for Mike's birthday to Barcelona. I remember waking up and looking to the window and the sky was red. I was disorientated I thought I was in Barcelona. But Barcelona had been and gone.

"I fell back asleep with my family around me who came to the realisation I was going to survive."

Doctors told Victoria the fact she was so fit and spent a lot of time in the gym contributed to her recovering so well.

"Mike my fiance will hug me randomly now and say, 'remember that time you nearly died?'. It's crazy - I'm only 29. I'm fit and healthy and to think I could've died so quickly, it's terrifying".

Victoria and Michael are now planning their wedding in 2020 Credit: Victoria Gunstone

"They told me I needed to take the next three months off work, but I was determined to get better. I was out of hospital in three weeks." "I feel better than ever now but I do stammer a bit. I struggle to get my words out and I'm a little bit forgetful, but other than that, I'm great.

"Looking back , it just seems like a movie to be honest. I laugh and joke about it now, but it's not until you see some of the other stories in the news. There's a girl that lived quite local to me who died in very tragic circumstances due to sepsis. The fact there's nothing physically wrong with me, I'm so so lucky".

"Life is back to normal now", Victoria said.

"I absolutely love my job. I've just been promoted which is great, we've recently bought a house and planning on getting married next year.

"Everything is on the right track".

  • What is sepsis?

Although sepsis is often referred to as either blood poisoning or septicaemia, these terms refer to the invasion of bacteria into the bloodstream.

Sepsis can affect multiple organs or the entire body, even without blood poisoning or septicaemia.

Sepsis can also be caused by viral or fungal infections, although bacterial infections are by far the most common cause.

Sepsis can come from something as simple as a cut or maybe from an invasive procedure like surgery. It can initially manifest itself as something like a chest infection or a gastric infection or flu-like symptoms.

It kills more people than strokes and more than lung cancer in Wales, but if caught early, it is treatable.

This video recorded with Terence Canning from the Sepsis Trust explains how sepsis can "come from anything" because it is "not the infection you have but your body's reaction to it."