Scottish bride-to-be almost died after common infection turned deadly weeks before dream wedding

A Scots bride-to-be who almost died following a sepsis attack has thanked the ambulance crew that saved her life by giving them a special part of her wedding cake.

Caroline and Phil Learmonth gave the top tier of their wedding cake to the ambulance crew behind Carolines life-saving intervention. Picture: Contributed
Caroline and Phil Learmonth gave the top tier of their wedding cake to the ambulance crew behind Carolines life-saving intervention. Picture: Contributed

The top tier of the cake is traditionally kept to celebrate the birth of a child, or a first anniversary.

Instead Caroline and Phil Learmonth, 32, gave it to the ambulance crew behind Caroline’s life-saving intervention – Aberdeenshire-based staff, Spencer Staddon, Sarah Rose and Connor Melville.

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Aberdeenshire-based staff, Spencer Staddon, Sarah Rose and Connor Melville were given the cake. Picture: Contributed

The couple tied the knot in June, but a month before her big day, stay-at-home mum Caroline fell seriously ill – just a week after getting a kidney infection.

“My body just went into overdrive. Within half an hour, I was properly shaking. I was cold and could not get warm. I felt like I was going in and out of consciousness,” said Caroline, of Newmachar, Aberdeenshire, who married Phil on June 21 at Glen Tanar, Aboyne.

Caroline, 40, was at home alone with the couple’s two kids – Olivia, six and Cameron, four – when she fell ill. She rang a friend, who travelled to the couple’s home and dialled 999. She initially called her mother-in-law but couldn’t get through.

When Paramedic Spencer Staddon first arrived, Caroline’s temperature was 41.8C – he carried out an initial assessment and antibiotics were administered. After an ambulance arrived, Caroline was taken to A&E at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, spending five days in hospital before returning home.

Caroline said she was extremely grateful for the help of the service “from start to finish”, saying it was “second to none”.

She explained: “Everything was great – Spencer was so calm. They were all just so nice – I cannot thank them enough.

“My two kids wanted to know everything that was going on. Spencer was very patient with them. He explained the machines, what they were doing – this made the difference. Everything was well explained - they had to do lots of tests and said that I might have to go to hospital.

“Everybody was so calm. They were not really stressed. They were quite calm themselves. Phil came after Spencer had arrived.

“Some of it’s a blur – some of it isn’t. On the Wednesday, I thought I was going to die. Everything was starting to slow down. It was a waiting game – wondering whether I was going to die. I felt my dad’s hand pressing down on my shoulder, saying I just thought I’d say it’s not time yet.”

Scottish Ambulance Service Patient Safety Manager Gary Rutherford said: “Sepsis is a life threatening complication of infection. Symptoms can vary and get worse quickly; therefore it is important for people to know what signs and symptoms to look for.

“You should call 999 if you notice any slurred speech, confusion, shivering, very high or low temperature, severe breathlessness, discoloured skin or rash, or low urine output. Children may also be sleepier than normal, difficult to wake, lethargic, have a seizure, or not feed normally.

“If you feel that the symptoms are mild or you are unsure, call NHS 24 on 111 for further advice. NHS 24 may arrange for an ambulance to be sent to you.”