West Midlands, UK – A 17-year-old girl died from a rare acute form of leukemia 10 days after walk-in clinic physicians diagnosed her with tonsillitis and chronic fatigue.
Sophie Coldwell began experiencing an array of symptoms of exhaustion, typically linked to an onset of stress and attributed to the increase in the girl’s schoolwork.
Concerned, Sophie went to a National Health Service walk-in center on March 7. She was sent home with a diagnosis for tonsillitis, chronic fatigue, and inflamed gums.
Following her visit, Sophie’s condition worsened. An ambulance was deployed to the girl’s Yardley, Birmingham home when Sophie began to experience difficulty breathing on March 16. While en route to the Solihull Hospital, she lost consciousness.
Sophie was later transferred to Heartlands Hospital, but the teenager never recovered. Sophie died in the early hours of March 17 from what doctors believe was an aggressive acute myeloid leukemia (AML).
The girl’s loved ones noted after the ordeal how tired Sophie had been days before her death but how everyone just assumed it was tied to her first year of college at Solihull Sixth Form College – all unaware of the severity of her condition.
Leukemia is a type of the blood or bone marrow cancer characterized by an abnormal increase of immature white blood cells called blasts. Leukemia is a broad term covering a spectrum of diseases affecting the blood, bone marrow, and lymphoid system, which are all known as hematological neoplasms.
Leukemia can affect people at any age, though 90 percent those with the condition are adults. It is treated with chemotherapy, medical radiation therapy, or hormone treatments. The rate of cure depends on the type of leukemia as well as the age of the patient as children have a higher rate of recovery over adults.
Adult acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is a cancer of the blood and bone marrow and gets worse rapidly if it is not treated. AML is also called acute myelogenous leukemia, acute myeloblastic leukemia, acute granulocytic leukemia, and acute nonlymphocytic leukemia.
Normally, the bone marrow makes blood stem cells (immature cells) that become mature blood cells over time. A blood stem cell may become a myeloid stem cell or a lymphoid stem cell. A lymphoid stem cell becomes a white blood cell.
In AML, the myeloid stem cells usually become a type of immature white blood cell called myeloblasts (or myeloid blasts). The myeloblasts in AML are abnormal and do not become healthy white blood cells. Sometimes too many stem cells become abnormal red blood cells or platelets. These abnormal white blood cells, red blood cells, or platelets are also called leukemia cells or blasts.
Leukemia cells can build up in the bone marrow and blood so there is less room for healthy white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets. When this happens, infection, anemia, or easy bleeding may occur. The leukemia cells can spread outside the blood to other parts of the body including the central nervous system, skin, and gums.
Symptoms of acute myeloid leukemia include easily bruised and pale skin, excessive unlabored perspiring, bone and joint discomfort, unusual bleeding from the nose and mouth, persistent infections, unexplained pain, extreme exhaustion, unexplained weight loss, foreign lumps, swelling, or discharge, and difficulty breathing.
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