14/08/2014 12:58 BST | Updated 20/05/2015 06:12 BST

Pregnant Doctor Died 24 Hours After Saving Husband's Life


A pregnant doctor saved her husband's life by diagnosing a deadly blood poisoning condition - which a few hours later went on to claim hers and their unborn baby's lives.

Craig Stobo, 43, said he would have died if his wife Fiona had not suspected he had contracted sepsis after he became ill.

But 24 hours later, as he recovered in hospital, he was told his wife was battling with the same deadly condition.

Fiona then lost their baby – who the couple called Isla – before losing her own fight for life.

Eighteen months after the tragedy, heartbroken Craig has shared his story as he campaigns to raise awareness of the sepsis which robbed him of his family.

He told his local paper in Edinburgh, that he had woken up one morning in August 2012 feeling unwell.

He said: "I was feeling dreadful. I'd woken up that morning feeling fine, but by lunchtime I was shivering violently and I felt sick.

"Fiona was 35 weeks pregnant with our second child and I had been going with her for a scan at the hospital that afternoon, but instead I went home to bed.

"A few hours later she rang back. She said she was worried about me, and she wanted me to go and see the GP. By this time I was much worse. I couldn't eat or drink anything and I felt like I was burning up.

"She came back home and drove me to the GP. I had to lean on her for support when I got out of the car, I was barely registering what was happening as I had a raging temperature."

Fiona and the GP thought he was suffering from sepsis - a blood infection - so she drove him to Edinburgh Western Hospital.

Craig said: "She stayed with me in the evening, but she started shivering. I was worried about her, but she assured me she was just cold and tired. She left before it got too late.

"She was staying with her mum and dad, so she set off to drive home to their house.

"By the next morning my legs were swollen and I was diagnosed with sepsis - just as Fiona had suspected.

"I was so grateful to her. Without her quick thinking I wouldn't still be here. It would have been too late if I had left it any later to get to hospital."

But later that day, a nurse broke the news to Craig that Fiona herself was desperately ill in hospital with an infection.

He said: "I couldn't take it in. I was lying in a hospital bed with an infection - and now Fiona was too. But I'd only seen her the night before when she'd sat by my side in this hospital."

Fiona had taken a turn for the worse driving home from the hospital. She'd taken painkillers for a headache when she'd arrived at her parents, but within hours they had taken her to hospital.

Doctors hadn't been able to save her unborn baby and Fiona had to be put on a ventilator. Craig was put into a wheelchair and taken to the hospital.

He said: "Our daughter Isla was stillborn at 5am and as I held her in my arms it was the most ghastly moment of my life. Just a few days ago we were both on top of the world, looking forward to our new arrival. Now I was holding my lifeless daughter in my arms, with Fiona fighting for her life."

Fiona had haemorrhaged after the stillbirth and the infection - the same sepsis infection that had nearly claimed her husband's life - was now raging through her body.

Craig said: "There were so many doctors and nurses around her, battling to save her life. She was wheeled down to the operating theatre for an operation to try and stop her bleeding, but they couldn't save her. She had a cardiac arrest on the operating table.

"I was waiting outside, desperately waiting for news of the operation. When the door opened and I saw the surgeon's face, I knew then that I had lost her.

"The next few days were just a blur. I couldn't believe that I had to go on with my life without Fiona. She was the most amazing person I had ever known."

Craig is now trying to get on with his life, with the couple's three-year-old son Robert, but he doesn't want his wife's death to be in vain.

Craig said: "There is no doubt that Fiona saved my life - and I do feel very lucky that she did - although it's not a life that I would have chosen to come back to. A life without her.

"It was just such a tragedy that she couldn't save her own too."

He added: "The doctors are still investigating our cases as officially they aren't related. But I'm putting my energies into raising funds to raise more awareness of this condition. 37,000 people die of it each year.

"Friends and family have stepped in to help with fundraising walks, coffee mornings and triathalons and we have managed to raise £25,000 so far. We are funding a seminar about sepsis and hope to fund more research too.

"Just a cut, bite or scratch can lead to sepsis developing and I would hate to think of any other family going through what I have been through. It's my duty to Fiona to try and do something about it, and that's what I will do."


• Sepsis claims more than 37,000 lives in the UK annually – more than lung cancer, and more than breast cancer and bowel cancer combined. Research shows early recognition and intervention may save as many as 15,000 lives annually.

• Sepsis is a life-threatening illness caused by the body overreacting to an infection

• The body's immune system goes into overdrive, setting off a series of reactions that can lead to widespread inflammation (swelling) and blood clotting.

• Symptoms usually develop quickly and include a fever or high temperature, chills, a fast heartbeat and fast breathing.

• The symptoms are so common that sepsis, also sometimes called blood poisoning or septicaemia, can often be misdiagnosed in its early stages.

• Although anybody can develop sepsis from a minor infection, some people are more vulnerable. • Those with an existing condition, the very young and old and those who have just had surgery are most at risk.

• If sepsis is detected early and has not yet affected vital organs, it may be possible to treat the infection at home with antibiotics. Most people with uncomplicated sepsis make a full recovery.

• Severe sepsis and septic shock are considered medical emergencies and normally require immediate admission to an intensive care unit, where the body's organs can be supported while the infection is treated.

• Because of problems with vital organs, people with severe sepsis are likely to be very ill, and approximately 30-50 per cent will die as a result of the condition.

For more information, go to Stop Sepsis