Woman's watermelon-sized cyst 'missed' by hospital in Sheffield

Hospital staff drained 13 litres of fluid from the cyst
Hospital staff drained 13 litres of fluid from the cyst
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A young woman was horrified to learn she had a watermelon-sized cyst the day after being sent home and told there was 'nothing to worry about' by hospital staff in Sheffield.

Leah Stafford, of Norton, said she was rushed to Northern General Hospital by her fiancé in the early hours with severe stomach pain, but after being tested for appendicitis was told she had a mild urinary tract infection, given painkillers and discharged later that morning.

Leah before the cyst was removed (left) and how she looks now, nearly two stone lighter

Leah before the cyst was removed (left) and how she looks now, nearly two stone lighter

The 22-year-old said the pain intensified and she was in such agony she went that evening to Chesterfield Royal Hospital for a second opinion.

There, scans revealed a 12-inch diameter cyst - a giant sac of fluid - which was pressing on her bladder and right ovary, and which medics told her could have proved fatal had it burst inside her.

After draining a remarkable 13 litres of fluid, staff took the decision to remove the cyst - along with Leah's right ovary, which they said was so badly damaged it could have caused complications with a future pregnancy.

Leah, who works in insurance as a customer service advisor and is also a freelance journalist, is still recovering from the ordeal.

She believes the cyst had been growing inside her for three years as she had been putting on weight all that time despite dieting and had gone from a size 14 to a size 20.

Once it was removed, she said her tummy 'deflated' and she was 26lb lighter.

Leah said she had suffered stomach cramps for several years, which her doctor had always put it down to period pain, but the excruciating torment she endured that morning she attended Northern General Hospital on July 31 was like nothing she had experienced before.

She is angry the cyst initially went unnoticed and wants to ensure no one else endures what she went through.

"The staff at Chesterfield Royal were brilliant but Northern General just dismissed me, with no ultrasound, no CT scan, just blood and urine tests," she said.

"Their error could, in the long run, have cost me my life.

"I would urge any women with stomach pains to get checked and if they're still in pain to seek a second opinion."

Dr David Throssell, medical director at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals, which runs the Northern General, said: "Our staff do their very best to provide good quality care to all our patients and so we are really concerned and sorry to hear about Ms Stafford’s experience.

"A range of tests were undertaken whilst she was in the emergency department but following her complaint this week, we will now undertake a full review of Ms Stafford's care and then discuss this with her personally."