Sheffield woman died with blood clots 16 days after Covid jab - ambulance took near four hours to reach her

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A Sheffield woman died with blood clots two weeks after her Covid-19 jab – before an ambulance arrived nearly four hours after she phoned.

Kelly Ellis, aged 33, had received a dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine on March 26, 2021, but was taken ill 16 days later in the early hours of April 13.

An inquest was told she rang 999 for an ambulance at 2.39am because of shortness of breath and kidney pain – but was found dead in her home on Main Road, Wharncliffe Side, three hours 46 minutes later at 6.25am – seven minutes after an ambulance had finally been allocated to her.

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File picture shows ambulances at Northern General Hospital A&E department, Sheffield. It took over three hours for an ambulance to be sent to Kelly Ellis, who was dead when it arrived.File picture shows ambulances at Northern General Hospital A&E department, Sheffield. It took over three hours for an ambulance to be sent to Kelly Ellis, who was dead when it arrived.
File picture shows ambulances at Northern General Hospital A&E department, Sheffield. It took over three hours for an ambulance to be sent to Kelly Ellis, who was dead when it arrived.

She had been classed as a category C call by the Yorkshire Ambulance Service – a rating for conditions not regarded as critical. But after her initial assessment ended at 3.19am, no one checked on ambulance availability again until 6.19am.

Doctors said it was possible she may have been saved if she had been treated while she was still alive.

If she had been rated category two, rather than three, she could have been picked up in 30 minutes.

Blood clots after AstraZeneca Covid vaccine

Pathologist Prof Kim Suvarna put the cause of death as a major blood clot in the lungs, and several, smaller clots elsewhere in her body, adding that the AZ vaccine, the contraceptive pill and amphetamines could have been contributory factors.

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Thrombosis expert consultant Giorgia Saccullo told the inquest it was impossible to say for definite if the vaccine caused Kelly’s death, because certain tests had not been carried out on her, adding it was quite possible Kelly could have survived had she arrived in hospital still alive.

Overall success in treating vaccine-related clots was around 80 per cent survival, she said.

Yorkshire Ambulance Service section commander Robert Connell said Kelly’s call was categorised as a ‘class three’ call by its operators, and put through a trial ‘triage’ stage which was running at the time.

Usually, that would mean a target wait of under 60 minutes, with 90 per cent being seen inside two hours.

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But care record service worker Kelly called at 2.39am, reporting breathing difficulties. She was spoken to by a clinical evaluator, who thought category three was correct, and closed the call at 3.19am.

But no ambulance arrived at Kelly’s home until 6.25am. Firefighters had to be called to break into her house for them to reach her.

Mr Connell said the call operater had said Kelly was speaking incoherently. He also admitted no one had checked on the possible availability of an ambulance until 6.18am.

He said: “If she had been category two, the average response time was 30 minutes, or up to 45 minutes.

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"From the time of the call it would have been about 3.10am. If she had been category two, it would have been 3.30am at the latest on that night.”

The ‘category three’ assessment was later audited and judged to be correct.

30 per cent more calls to Yorkshire Ambulance Service since Covid

Mr Connell explained the ambulance service had seen a 30 per cent rise in calls since the pandemic which had not reduced since. He said factors included longer waits for operations, and people struggling to get to see their GPs.

The Yorkshire Ambulance Service was taking steps to address the problem, he added, including recruiting more paramedics from abroad, because British universities were unable to keep up with demand.

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He also said the service was now calling patients again to see if their case category needed to be updated.

Staff who were working the night Kelly died had been spoken to, and all staff given training on checking to see whether ambulances had become available.

Assistant coroner Tanyka Rawden recorded the cause of death as a pulmonary embolism, where a blood clot blocks a blood vessel, and multiple smaller clots, mentioning vaccine-induced immune thrombotic thrombocytopenia, a type of blood clot which has been linked with the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine, and the use of amphetamine, as contributory factors. She recorded the contraceptive pill could have been a lesser influencing factor.

Kelly had been found lying face down on her bed, with her face in a pillow, which doctors said may have affected her breathing

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Mrs Rawden said Kelly had amphetamine in her system which may have affected her natural reaction to move once her breathing became affected due to that position.

Recording a narrative conclusion, she said: “Kelly Ellis died at her home address on Main Road on April 13, 2021 due to a pulmonary thrombosis embolism and multi-sited vascular thrombosis. It is likely the cause was vaccine-induced immune thrombocytopenia and thrombosis, with amphetamine use.

“No checks were undertaken with regard to the availability of an ambulance between the ending of the triage call at 3.19am, and the allocation of an ambulance at 6.19am. Had a resource check been undertaken in that period, it is unlikely that an ambulance would have arrived at her address any sooner than it did due to the pressures on the service at that time.

“Had medical assistance arrived sooner, it is likely Kelly would have been provided with treatment, which may have saved or prolonged her life.”

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She made no recommendations on prevention of future deaths, saying the YAS had already taken steps to prevent any repeat of the circumstances.

Sheffield’s director of public health, Greg Fell has called tragic cases of blood clots linked to vaccines “vanishingly rare”.

He said: “In terms of rarity, it’s ‘struck by lightning’ type of territory.

“All medical interventions come with benefits and they all also come with complications.

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“Those risks [connected to the Covid vaccine] are vanishingly rare.”

He also urged residents who are declining the Covid-19 vaccine because of concerns for its safety to reconsider.

He said: “Vaccination is still the best protection we have.

“The overwhelming evidence is it’s a safe vaccine, but there are those who will have reservations and are putting off getting jabbed.