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BBC presenter shares terrifying moment killer sepsis struck just minutes before going on air

A BBC presenter has revealed she was struck with a bout of killer sepsis just moments before reading the morning news.

Sarah McMullan said she started feeling “really cold” before the horror health scare landed her in hospital for nearly a week.

Sarah McMullan was hospitalised for nearly a week after being struck with a bout of sepsis

The BBC Scotland presenter said she failed to spot the signs of sepsis despite interviewing a woman who nearly died from it just weeks before.

Instead, she waited more than 36 hours to call for medical help, and was told by doctors she was “very lucky” to recover.

The journalist’s bout of sepsis, also known as blood poisoning, caused her temperature to spike up to 40 degrees and led to a six day stint in hospital.

She said the symptoms began while she was beginning a shift to read the morning news bulletins, where she first noticed she was extremely cold and had goose bumps.

The chilling health scare led Sarah to confide in a colleague that something was “really not right”.

She added: “Then I started physically shaking and all the colour drained from my face.

“My lips were turning blue. My hands were chalk white, like you had been standing outside in winter for hours.

“There was no colour in my skin. There was no heat in my body. It was uncontrolled shivering and shaking.”

The presenter recalled that the shock made her feel “so spaced out”.



Speaking to BBC Radio Scotland’s Drivetime programme, Sarah said she had ironically interviewed a fellow sepsis-survivor just weeks before, yet failed to recognise the warning signs.

Recalling her interview, Sarah continued: “She spoke through all of the symptoms and what to look out for and what to remember and when to get help and I did not remember them well enough.”

She continued: “It was hard to make sense of what was happening – it crossed my mind ‘Am I having some sort of panic attack?’

“It felt like something mentally might be happening to me because I was so confused and quite weepy actually.”

Despite being struck by the killer medical emergency, Sarah said her “spaced out” experience at first lasted only around 40 minutes.

Afterwards, she returned to the studio to finish her final morning bulletin.

When she began feeling unwell, Sarah simply put it down to skipping breakfast or potentially the start of a cold.

But after napping through the afternoon when she returned from work, she couldn’t shake the effects – yet still didn’t call for help.

Despite first feeling the effects on Wednesday morning, she didn’t call NHS 24 until the early hours of Friday.

A&E quickly diagnosed her with a kidney infection, and Sarah ended up spending almost a week in hospital under antibiotics and morphine.

Sarah admitted she could not stop crying as she had no idea what was wrong with her while her temperature would rapidly spike up and down.

“It was spiking really quite quickly. It would go from about 37 to 40 within about 15 minutes.

“It was 40, on and off, for about two days.”

The presenter said she now feels she was extremely lucky to recover after knowing she raised the alarm with very little time to spare.

Now back at work, Sarah admitted: “It could have been a lot worse. That’s what I was told on several occasions.

“The doctors kept saying to me ‘You have been very lucky here’.”

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