Health & Lifestyle

Estate agent, 22, claims she nearly died from six blood clots after a nurse blamed her leg pain on her being a ‘lazy student who laid in bed too long’

An estate agent has claimed she could have died after being told her leg pain was down to her being a ‘lazy student’.

Maela Penney, from Liskeard in Cornwall, made an urgent appointment with her GP surgery in October 2019. 

But the 22-year-old was sent home with painkillers by a nurse practitioner who told her she was ‘laying in bed too long’, she claimed. 

As her symptoms worsened, Ms Penney was forced to return to the same practice in a wheelchair just 24 hours later. 

It was only during the second appointment that the nurse practitioner diagnosed her with deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and advised she visit A&E. 

Maela Penney (pictured), from Liskeard in Cornwall, made an urgent appointment with her GP surgery in October 2019. But the 22-year-old was sent home with painkillers by a nurse practitioner who told her she was 'laying in bed too long', she claimed

Maela Penney (pictured), from Liskeard in Cornwall, made an urgent appointment with her GP surgery in October 2019. But the 22-year-old was sent home with painkillers by a nurse practitioner who told her she was ‘laying in bed too long’, she claimed

After attending A&E, Ms Penney was also given blood thinning injections before being taken to theatre where her clots were removed. She had a second operation days later to insert a stent in her leg. Pictured during her hospital stay

After attending A&E, Ms Penney was also given blood thinning injections before being taken to theatre where her clots were removed. She had a second operation days later to insert a stent in her leg. Pictured during her hospital stay

The painful condition occurs when a clot forms in a vein, usually in the leg. 

It can be life-threatening if part breaks off and blocks the blood supply to the lungs, known medically as a pulmonary embolism. 

Scans taken in hospital the following day revealed she had six clots, some of which were the ‘size of a 50p coin’. 

Recalling her ordeal, Ms Penney said: ‘I started to get really bad hip pain. 

‘It was aching and keeping me up in the night. I didn’t think it was anything serious at that time.

‘I rang my doctors in the morning and I explained I was in agony. 

‘At this point, I couldn’t walk very well but I could still walk. My grandad came with me and helped me walk to the doctors.

‘When I got there I was seen by a nurse practitioner. She asked if I was an active person and at the time I wasn’t really doing much because I was in college. 

‘She said spending a lot of time in bed can cause your muscles to seize up. She was basically saying I was a lazy student who wasn’t getting enough exercise and staying in bed too long.’

After attending A&E, Ms Penney was also given blood thinning injections before being taken to theatre where her clots were removed. 

She had a second operation days later to insert a stent in her leg.

These expand against blocked or narrowed vein walls, acting as a scaffold to keep veins open. 

Ms Penney was also prescribed blood-thinning tablets which she was recommended to take for the rest of her life to reduce the risk of further clots.

She added: ‘I probably would’ve been dead if I hadn’t pushed it. I had a scan before all the clots were removed and the clots were all leading up to the main artery in my heart. 

‘It was only a matter of time, it could’ve been a bad outcome if I’d just stayed at home.’

DVT symptoms include redness, pain, a heavy ache and sometimes swelling, usually in the calf or thigh.

In severe cases, chest pain, breathing difficulties, a faster heartbeat and coughing up blood can be signs of a pulmonary embolism. 

Research suggests 40 per cent of patients who die from a pulmonary embolism complained of nagging symptoms for weeks before their death. 

For every pulmonary embolism diagnosed in time, there are at least another two where the diagnosis was missed and resulted in sudden death, according to the charity Thrombosis UK.

The number of deaths caused by blood clots has also risen in England from 12,457 a year in 2019/20 to 14,846 in 2021/22.

Ms Penney said she had now ‘lost trust’ in medical professionals and urged people to get a second opinion if they ‘know something’s not right’. 

She added: ‘I’m disappointed the nurse didn’t spot the signs because looking back now it’s obvious what the problem was. 

‘After that happened I feel like I’ve lost trust in medical professionals. If I can avoid going to the doctors, I will.

‘If something’s not right, I wouldn’t take that for an answer if you’re not happy. I would ask for a second opinion and keep pushing because you yourself know when something’s not right.

‘Don’t just accept the first answer if you’re not happy. I knew something wasn’t right. In these situations, you have to be persistent especially if it’s going to save your life.’


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Daily M

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