A teenage girl “choked to death on her own blood” after catching an incredibly rare fungal infection from breathing in mold.
Jade Owens, 14, died after catching mucormycosis – an almost one-in-a-million infection that invaded her immune system and that way inside her throat, airways and passageways to her lungs.
The keen horse rider from Stockport, Greater Manchester, was "full of life" before she fell ill with flu-like symptoms on May 20 and what doctors initially believed was a minor chest infection.
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But after persistent illness, doctors ordered extra tests that revealed Jade had type 1 diabetes and was in severe diabetic ketoacidosis – a complication that causes ketones to build up in the body, effectively turning the blood acidic.
Jade was placed in an induced coma for five days and her family thought she was on the mend after she showed signs of improvement – but she suddenly began coughing up blood on June 11 and died just 20 minutes later.
Tests later revealed she had mucormycosis, a fungal infection usually caused by breathing in mold spores that is only found in an average of 1.7 out of every one million people.
The infection targets people with a weakened immune system and for Jade it causes the tissue and blood vessels in her throat to be killed off after being overrun with the fungus.
For unknown reasons, people with type 1 diabetes are particularly at risk of catching mucormycosis.
It is not known where Jade came into contact with mold spores, but her mother Louise, 35, suspects it could have been during her outdoor hobbies such as horse riding.
The mother of two said: “heartbroken. You never think anything like this will happen to you and I want to make sure no one else goes through what we have.
“I think about Jade every single day.
“Never forget something, walking into the room and seeing my daughter covered in blood.
“It was like a murder scene. The blood vessels in her throat had burst and she bled to death.
“She choked on her own blood and had coughed it up. It was horrible to see and that would never leave me. ”
Ms Owens said the infection was "opportunistic" and Jade, sister to Aiden, 17, and half-sister to Abley Stock, one, caught it because her immune system was weakened by diabetes, which her family did not realize she had.
She added: “No one else in the family has it so we had no idea what to look out for.
“If only we knew about the signs then we might have done something. I feel guilty in some ways for that. ”
Before she fell ill, Jade had been focusing on spending time with her family after her father Paul Daniels, who was Ms Owens' ex-partner, died suddenly in 2016.
Ms Owens said she was still struggling to come to terms with Jade's death, but wanted to talk about the symptoms of type 1 diabetes to help raise awareness.
She said: “I miss her every single day, our lives will never be the same without her.
“To go through what we have gone through is horrific. I wouldn't want anyone else to go through what we have.
“She was very tired and had some weight loss but she was hungry too.
"Since all this has happened we have learned more about diabetes and they are symptoms of it."
Additional reporting by SWNS