A 20-year-old woman died from a blood clot triggered by a rare reaction to taking contraceptive pills, an inquest heard.
Abbey Parkes started taking Logynon at the advice of her GP six years ago after suffering dramatic mood swings during her periods.
However, the legal secretary, who lived with her boyfriend Liam Grocott, 25, in Tunstall, Staffs., was unaware that she had a rare condition called Factor V Leiden.
The condition increases the risk of developing a blood clot, especially when coupled with taking any pill that increases oestrogen – including contraceptive pills.
In Britain just five per cent of people carry the genes from Factor V, and many of those won’t ever suffer from blood clotting.
After complaining for weeks about pains in her side, wooziness and difficulty breathing, Abbey’s family were left stunned when she suddenly passed away on August 26 last year from a pulmonary embolism.
Paramedics at the Royal Stoke University Hospital, where she was treated, found a massive blood clot on her lower right lung and two secondary clots on her left lung.
An inquest at North Staffordshire Coroners Court on Friday (7/7) revealed that Abbey had Factor V.
Now devastated mum Amanda is having to be screened for the hereditary condition to determine whether it was passed down from her own family or that of Abbey’s father, Stephen Gordon, who died in 1997 at the age of 33.
The heartbroken former A&E worker now faces the trauma of having to alert either her or Stephen’s family to the possibility that they might be at risk.
Amanda, 43, said: “It came out of nowhere, Abbey’s death.
“I just can’t stress how much of a shock it was.
“Initially, she started to complain about about a pain in the right side of her body.
“She said that she felt nauseous, and that she had headaches that came and went very quickly.
“But she soldiered on, she was very stoic like that.
“On August 11 we went to the Royal Stoke University Hospital, where they did an ECG and an x-ray.
“They initially thought that she had a pulled muscle, but the next day she went back to her GP, who discovered that she had an infection.
“Even at that stage, though, it didn’t seem as though there was masses to worry about.
“Certainly her symptoms didn’t seem to be life threatening.
“She went to the GP again on August 18 after feeling breathless and the GP gave her an inhaler and some steroids.
“They seemed to perk her up a lot, which made her lull into a false sense of security and she went into work the next day.
“She was determined to press on through her sickness, but her colleagues were very concerned because she was clearly struggling quite severely.
“She didn’t go into work again after that, she was just too sick.
“I’ll never forget the day that she died, it will live with me forever.
“She lived with her boyfriend, who had gone off to work first thing in the morning, as usual.
“Abbey hadn’t felt comfortable in bed the previous night, and had to lie propped up because of the pain in her sides.
“Liam received a call from her early in the morning, at about 7.30am, telling him that she couldn’t breathe and he needed to come home.
“Obviously he dialled 999 and rushed over, but there was nothing that could be done.
“When they arrived she was just slumped in a chair in the living room, not breathing and clearly unconscious.
“She was rushed to the hospital, but we were all fearing the worst.
“After about an hour and a half waiting in A&E, a member of staff came to me and said that the doctor would be in to have a word with us soon.
“I knew then that my little girl was gone.
“It was absolutely heartbreaking. Absolutely devastating.”
It was discovered that a lack of oxygen to the lungs, as a result of the pulmonary embolism, had forced Abbey into a cardiac arrest, which in turn caused her death.
Amanda added: “People need to be aware of the dangers that come from taking the pill.
“It does increase the risk of clots and carries other health risks.
“Of course, it is a fantastic thing, but more needs to be done to prevent cases like this.
“Abbey first started taking the pill when she was 14, because her hormones were all over the place when she first started having her period.
“Her moods would swing from one extreme to the other in a matter of minutes, and she had no control over her emotions.
“She was recommended Logynon, and that helped enormously.
“But when she was given it, there should have been some sort of warning about the dangers and the possibility that you might suffer have the genes for Factor V.
“There’s no automatic screening for the condition, and the only reason I am able to be tested for it now is because I’m related to someone that has died from it.
“Now we have to determine whether it has come from my side of the family or Stephen’s.
“If it is on my side, then my main concern would be for Abbey’s brother, Liam, who is 19.
“It’s incredibly unlikely that he’s going to ever be taking an oestrogen pill, but what if he has a daughter? And then she has a daughter?
“If it’s on Stephen’s side, then obviously I have to let them know, even though they are already aware of the possibility that they might be at risk.
“It’s staggering that this condition isn’t more publicised.
“Yes, it’s incredibly rare, but as Abbey’s case goes to show, there’s always a risk.
“She was the most beautiful girl – extremely popular and well-loved.
“She didn’t deserve to pass away in this way, but hopefully by raising awareness we can prevent it from happening to other people too”.
During the inquest, A&E consultant Doctor Alexander Hart, of Royal Stoke University Hospital, said: “It would have been impossible for a doctor to be aware of the Factor V mutation.
“All of these clotting risks were a perfect storm.
“She had become more unwell and by the time paramedics arrived at her house she had collapsed.
“By the time she arrived to me there were no signs of improvement.
“We worked on her for a period of time but the chances of any kind of survival were zero so we decided to stop the resuscitation at that point.
“More people have triplets than those who have a pulmonary embolism on the pill. That’s how unusual this occurrence is.”