Family devastated after mother of two went to bed with flu and loses both legs to sepsis



A dedicated primary school teacher went to bed with flu-like symptoms and ended up losing both of her legs to sepsis.

Mother-of-two Julianna Bransden, 44, was living a “happy healthy life” until a sudden illness left her fighting for her life.

Ms Bransden first began experiencing flu-like symptoms on New Year’s Eve a few days after celebrating a big Christmas with her family. After going to bed to try and rest, her husband described her “falling off a cliff” after deteriorating so badly her heart stopped.

“Julianna’s husband Tim called 111 and they told him to keep giving her paracetamol but when was no better he called an ambulance,” Julianna’s mother Linda Burgess told The Independent.

“I actually lost my sister-in-law to something very similar so we were very aware that people can get ill quite quickly.”

Ms Burgess said she received an urgent call to come and look after her grandchildren 14-year-old Emilia and 11-year-old William, while Tim was rushed to the hospital with Julianna.

From there, Julianna spent 18 days in a coma with doctors working around the clock to treat her for septic shock, two cardiac arrests and multiple organ failure.

Julianna lost both her legs to sepsis

(Tim Bransden)

When Julianna eventually came around, she suffered severe damage to her hands and feet and had both legs amputated from sepsis as a result of an aggressive form of pneumonia brought on by influenza.

“It was a total shock,” Ms Burgess said. “We had never realised the extent of the damage that sepsis could cause and that it could be caused by influenza and Strep A.”

Julianna was in a coma for 18 days after catching the devastating flu

(Tim Bransden)

“Now you look back and it all seems like a blur.”

Ms Burgess praised her daughter’s bravery in the face of the “devastating” illness. She added that Julianna has “continued to smile at every step.”

“She has amazed all the medical staff because she has continued to be strong, resilient, and accepting of everything. She just smiles.”

Julianna with her husband Tim daughter Emilia (14) and son William (11)

(Tim Bransden)

Julianna is currently being treated at Withybush Hospital having only left intensive care earlier this month.

“She was able to speak straight away. She was very weak, you could just about hear her but we were so relieved she came out of it and was able to recognise and communicate with us,” Ms Burgess told The Independent.

Julianna’s family were told the 44-year-old was very poorly

(Tim Bransden )

“It wasn’t until some time after she woke up that the extent of the sepsis was explained. We were devastated.

“Her hands were badly affected but her feet were causing the problem and it was going to compromise all her organs if we weren’t careful so we made the wise decision to amputate and once that source of infection was gone she began to pick up.”

Sepsis is a common and potentially life-threatening condition triggered by an infection.

A sepsis infection can start anywhere in the body and can occur after chest or water infections, abdomen problems – such as burst ulcers – or even from cuts and bites.

Julianna’s mother Linda (left) and father Richard (right) have been by her side through her illness and praised her bravery

(Tim Bransden )

It is caused by the way the body responds to germs, such as bacteria. The body’s response to an infection may injure its own tissues and organs.

If untreated, sepsis can lead to shock, multiple organ failure and death.

According to the Sepsis Trust, the disease leads to 44,000 deaths in the UK each year.

Julianna’s husband, self-employed plumber Tim hasn’t been able to work since before Christmas and is focusing on supporting his two children and getting Julianna home.

Julianna’s family has been by her side as she recovers in hospital

(Tim Bransden )

Julianna’s family including her parents and brother, who have been by her side since her illness, are now helping to raising money to support Julianna’s recovery which they hope will include prosthetics. The fundraising page has seen donations total more than £90,000 in under a week.

The family want to get Julianna home as soon as she is well enough but are yet to be given any dates by the hospital as she continues to receive treatment and wait for her hands to heal up.

Ms Burgess said the family is so “overwhelmed” by the support they’ve received not just financially for Julianna but also in prayer.

She said her daughter would want to raise awareness about the dangers of sepsis to help other people know the signs.



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