A woman has told how her GP sent her home with paracetamol for her mouth ulcers only to discover the next day she had a life-threatening illness.
Annie Lovegrove, 21, went to see a GP when a large mouth ulcer wouldn't go away, despite a course of antibiotics.
The doctor saw sores on her tonsils and thought she had tonsillitis, so sent her home again, but this time she developed a high fever and was rushed to A&E the next day.
Miss Lovegrove, of Ipswich, was then diagnosed with aplastic anaemia, a condition in which the body doesn't produce enough blood cells.
She has since needed 50 blood transfusions, chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant from her younger sister to try and overcome the condition.
Annie Lovegrove, pictured before her illness, was told by a doctor she had tonsillitis and sent home but she developed a high fever the next day and was rushed to A&E
Miss Lovegrove needed a bone marrow transplant and had to have chemotherapy beforehand to prepare her body, which made her lose her hair
Blood tests revealed Miss Lovegrove had extremely low levels of red and white blood cells, leaving her at risk of simple infections. Pictured at a fertility clinic, she may have been left infertile by her chemotherapy
'I had a mouth ulcer form in the middle of January, along with unexplained bruises on my body,' Miss Lovegrove said.
'After a week of using over-the-counter medication and saltwater, my mum told me to go to the doctor as there was no improvement. If anything, it was getting worse.'
Mouth sores are a symptom of aplastic anaemia. The immune system of patients is weak, so small wounds in the mouth can take longer to heal.
The doctor prescribed antibiotics but, when those didn't work and Miss Lovegrove developed a fever, they thought it may be tonsillitis so gave her paracetamol.
But by this time Miss Lovegrove claims her body temperature had hit 41°C (105°F), she had a headache and her heartbeat was 'sporadic'.
Realising her daughter's health was quickly deteriorating, Miss Lovegrove's mother, Hayley, 48, called an ambulance the next day.
The first major sign of Miss Lovegrove's illness was a large mouth ulcer which wouldn't go away despite antibiotics
Miss Lovegrove then spent two weeks in hospital after blood tests revealed she had dangerously low counts of red and white blood cells.
This meant her immune system was extremely weak and even a simple infection such as a cold could devastate her health.
'I had to have three pints of blood and platelets transfused within 24 hours of arriving,' Miss Lovegrove said.
'Then over the next two weeks in hospital, I received five more pints of blood and four pints of platelets. This basically kept me alive.
'I was in and out of sleep continuously because I was so weak. I didn’t use my phone for two weeks because I was that bad.
'I was in isolation as I was neutropenic [low on white blood cells], and I couldn’t risk getting infections since everything was a risk to me.
Miss Lovegrove has received more than 50 blood transfusions (pictured, having one early in her illness) since she became ill in January this year
Miss Lovegrove's mother, Hayley, 48, phoned an ambulance for her daughter the day after she had been sent home by a GP
'Initially, my family were told that it could be leukaemia and they were devastated, but my first bone marrow biopsy in February confirmed that it was aplastic anaemia, which left us with a sense of relief at first.'
Aplastic anaemia is a serious, potentially life-threatening condition in which the bone marrow and stem cells do not produce enough blood cells.
The condition causes a drop in levels of red and white blood cells and platelets.
Red blood cells transport oxygen around the body, so a lack of them can starve muscles of oxygen,