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Wife of Star Wars and Harry Potter actor Warwick Davis pays tribute to Addenbrooke's for saving her life

By Adrian Curtis

Sam and Warwick Davis outside Addenbrookes Hospital. Picture: Keith Heppell
Sam and Warwick Davis outside Addenbrookes Hospital. Picture: Keith Heppell

Sammy Davis was admitted to Cambridge hospital with sepsis, meningitis and Strep B

Addenbrookes Hospital Picture: Keith Heppell
Addenbrookes Hospital Picture: Keith Heppell

Sammy Davis, the wife of Star Wars and Harry Potter actor Warwick Davis, has paid a glowing tribute to Addenbrooke’s Hospital after fearing she was going to die from sepsis, meningitis and Strep B.

Mrs Davis admitted she had planned her own funeral and even selected the words for her tombstone when she was struck down with the deadly infections just weeks after routine spinal surgery last summer.

Husband Warwick, who was born with Spondyloepiphyseal dysplasia congenita, an extremely rare form of dwarfism, was already reeling from the death of his father Ashley and, had it not been for the lifesaving care and support of Addenbrooke’s doctors and staff, he could have lost his wife as well.

The couple returned to Addenbrooke’s last week to thank the Cambridge University Hospital staff who helped to bring her back from the brink.

Mother of two, Mrs Davis, 47, told the Cambridge Independent: “I cannot thank staff at ward D6, the OPAT team, the high dependency unit and intensive care nurses and doctors enough.

“My family goes to Addenbrooke’s a lot and I cannot fault them. The staff work so hard, they are beautiful. I am 47 now and my 47 years of experience with Addenbrooke’s is perfect.

“The love and support from every single person in Addenbrooke’s was outstanding, I didn’t want to leave, all the nurses were beautiful and I felt very blessed and honoured, I felt I was the only patient there because the care was so good”

Initially, Mrs Davis, who has achondroplasia, thought her flu-like symptoms had been brought on by the stress of helping Warwick travel to see his father who was seriously ill at the time after having a stroke.

She added: “It was quite a sad time for us because Warwick’s dad had suffered a stroke. So I thought I was stressing about him and they way I felt was nothing to do with me. We came home from visiting his father to get some clean clothes before returning to Hereford where he lived and also to get my stitches out. These things all came at the same time but Warwick was able to spend the last few weeks with him.”

But she soon realised she was unwell when she collapsed at home.

She explained: “I had surgery on July 18 and it went really well and I went home happy as Larry. Then two weeks later I didn’t feel so well. I thought I had a bit of flu because felt a bit achy. But I stepped into my house and immediately felt unwell, so I took myself straight to bed which I don’t normally do.

“We had a family event the next day and I never miss those but I sent Warwick and my son Harrison without me. I felt so rubbish that I couldn’t go. Then two days later I woke up in the early morning and thought I’d been hit by a truck. I jumped out of bed but then almost collapsed.

“I had planned a doctor’s appointment to have my stitches out and thought I’d ask the GP about it. But then I went for a lie down on the sofa and when I got up I collapsed twice, the room was spinning and said to Warwick I felt worse. It was spiralling out of control and I couldn’t figure it out.

“I went to see my GP and I was getting worse in front of both her and Warwick. She sent me to Addenbrooke’s to get checked but I kept drifting in and out during this time. They took me to a room and I had an MRI scan but I couldn’t bear anyone touching me as I was in pain. I didn’t care about anything.

“I couldn’t lift my head up and was just laid in a bed in the ward. The doctors were fantastic, they kept checking me and I had blood tests every hour. Then fantastic doctor Doug Hay told me they were going to take some fluid out of my back. He came back and said I was really poorly and that we had to go to theatre immediately. I was rushed to theatre and had my wound cleaned out and woke up in intensive care. But when the results came back, I had meningitis, Strep B and Sepsis. Then I went into a high dependency unit where the care and the love was really outstanding.”

But even though the doctors were reassuring her that everything was going to be fine, Mrs Davis thought her time was up.

She said: “I was really scared, I didn’t want to die. At times I couldn’t cuddle my family or Warwick because I could hardly move my arms. For four or five days I was crying as I didn’t want to die. The scary part for me was about day five when I thought ‘I’m done’. The family came to see me after they had been filming all day. They were talking to me but I was looking at them like I was outside my body and listening. I thought I can’t fight anymore and I had come to terms with dying. I had accepted it. We are building a house at the moment and Warwick was showing me the pictures, and although I didn’t say it out loud, I thought I would never see the house or that I’d ever be in it. I went to sleep that night but in the middle of the night I went for a brain scan and I joked about the doctors finding it. But that morning I rang Warwick and I suddenly felt better.

“But two and a half weeks flat on your back in bed gives you a lot of time to think and on my bad days I had planned my funeral. I could only find one regret though and that was that I hadn’t given my kids and Warwick enough time and I started crying.

“I could put that on my gravestone I thought: ‘There is not enough time’. I thought about how I lived my life at about 150 mph as we do a lot of charity work and I looked at how much time I gave the kids and Warwick on their own. I didn’t. So I wanted to fix that.

“So when I got better, it was the best thing ever, worst for the pain but the best because I have been given a second chance and I have changed for the better. Everyone who knows me closely, says I am a lot calmer.”

Now she wants to alert people to the danger of sepsis which kills thousands of people each year but is difficult to diagnose unless you are aware of its symptoms.

She added: “Sepsis has given me a second chance and a very positive one. But post sepsis is absolutely rubbish. Basically my teeth have gone yellow, my hair is falling out like crazy and my skin is really flaky, you become forgetful and have insomnia.

“I also go hot and cold quickly and that is a bit crazy, and post-sepsis can go on for a year because your body has taken a bashing.

“I am recommending that everyone takes some time to look at the Sepsis Trust website and learn about it. So if they are poorly, they know what to look for. It can possibly save someone’s life.They call it the ‘magic hour’, when you have be treated quickly.

“So many people are dying from it so they need to look for the signs. I am telling everyone to sit and read the Sepsis website, it could save lives, including their own.”

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