Blood clot killed schoolteacher four months after her wedding

Helen Thompson, pictured on her wedding day

Husband James Thompson

Helen and James on their wedding day

Helen volunteering in Khao Lak between 2005-2006 after the 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami

First published in News
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The Oxford Times: Photograph of the Author by , Education Reporter, also covering West Oxford. Call me on (01865) 425437

JUST-MARRIED Helen Thompson died a day after being diagnosed with a blood clot on her brain.

The 28-year-old primary school teacher suffered seizures three weeks after feeling hyper-sensitivity in her feet.

The previously healthy woman, who slipped into unconsciousness during the seizures, was diagnosed with a blood clot on her brain during a scan.

Just two hours later, doctors told her family there was nothing more they could do for her – and she was dead within a day.

Her husband James Thompson said: “We had just got married. She left me still loving me, still wanting me, with me wanting her and loving her.

“We loved each other so much.”

Her death prompted a boost for an international aid charity she supported, with almost £16,000 donated in her name by friends and well-wishers.

After a brain scan on December 11, plans were put in place for the 28-year-old to have emergency surgery at Oxford’s John Radcliffe Hospital.

But it was too late. The blood clot had caused a haemorrhage and the clot had spread.

Mr Thompson, a bricklayer, said: “The doctors said they had never seen a case like this before. It was just so fast. Because she was on the contraceptive pill, she was at a higher risk of clots, but this was very rare.”

Mr Thompson said: “We don’t really want to go through the process of trying to point fingers and blame.
“It was a very scary situation. They hoped they could operate, but in the time between getting from Royal Berks to the JR it had spread so much it was impossible to do anything. It was just so fast – literally a few hours. She never woke up again.”

  • Every year, many thousands of people in the UK develop a blood clot in a vein
  • Although serious, most blood clots can be completely avoided
  • You are more at risk of develping blood clots if you cannot move around very much or if you are unwell
  • Blood clots can be linked to long-haul plane journeys or the contraceptive pill, but you are more likely to get a blood clot after going into hospital
  • Symptoms of venous sinus thrombosis - which Mrs Thompson had - may include headache, abnormal vision, any of the symptoms of stroke - such as weakness of the face and limbs on one side of the body - and seizures.

Mrs Thompson, a reception class teacher from Westfield Road in Long Wittenham, had married childhood sweetheart Mr Thompson just four months earlier.

She had been admitted to the Royal Berkshire Hospital on November 25 to be treated for an unrelated condition – a possible inflammation on her spine.
The childhood sweethearts had married at a festival-style wedding at Kingston Bagpuize House in August – just four months before her death.
The couple had known each other since they were 12, meeting at Wallingford School, and were friends until beginning a relationship when they were 18.
Both had strong links to the charity International Disaster Volunteers (IDV), having volunteered for the organisation in Khao Lak in Thailand between 2005-2006, after the tsunami which devastated the country.
The teacher had been trying to raise a modest £200 for the charity when her life was tragically cut short.  Now her family have been left astounded by the amount of money which has been donated in her memory.
In the past month, almost £16,000 has been raised on her JustGiving page for the charity’s work in helping with the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan.
“This can never bring her back, but it means so much,” said Mr Thompson.
A decision has not yet been made by him or IDV about how the money will be spent – but it could be used to build a school.
But anything raised in his wife’s memory has been ring-fenced by the charity.
And he said Mrs Thompson – a teacher at Upper Basildon Primary School, Reading – would have been very proud of what has been achieved.
He said:“Everyone loved Helen. It has been absolutely mad seeing how it has gone.
“We put a post on Facebook and a link to the site and friends of friends have been sharing it and more money just keeps being raised.”
Mr Thompson said the money could be put towards a primary school in the Philippines.
He said: “She wanted to become a teacher after helping in Thailand – that inspired her to train to be one when she came back. I think it would be really nice to do something like that.”
Andy Chaggers, a founder of IDV, said: “Helen was such a happy person and when James comes over we are going to look at what we can do with the money. Using the money towards a primary school would be very apt.”

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