A 28-year-old woman with cystic fibrosis died after contracting pneumonia she caught when someone COUGHED next to her.
Tragic Kayleigh Box was diagnosed with the debilitating disease at just 11 months old after she became poorly and failed to gain weight.
Kayleigh suffered years of endless pills, intravenous antibiotics, physiotherapy, nebulisers, hospital stays and appointments to battle cystic fibrosis.
The condition left her immune system extremely fragile and meant she was susceptible to germs.
In December she contracted bronchopneumonia from someone coughing near while she went Christmas shopping in her hometown of Malvern, Worcs.
Her family claim she tried to get an appointment at a cystic fibrosis clinic but it took a week to get a slot.
Despite being rushed into intensive care at Heartlands Hospital in Birmingham, Kayleigh, died on January 17.
Devastated mum Dawn Box, 53, said Kayleigh, who was training to be a veterinary nurse, died because someone failed to cover their mouth when they coughed.
She said: “She had a bit of an obsession with germs and bugs, she hated being near people with colds and coughs, because she usually caught something as her immune system was low compared to a healthy person.
“So many times she ended up in hospital after catching a virus from somewhere.
“She used to say ‘Can’t they put their hands over their mouths when they cough?’.
“She obviously caught the pneumonia from someone who maybe coughed when she was stood next to them, and had her life taken away from her by something that’s a million times worse than a common cold.
“She wasn’t feeling well for the whole of Christmas.
“She went to the cystic fibrosis clinic but she couldn’t get an appointment until a week later.
“I am so angry that it took so long to get an appointment. She was given two weeks of intravenous antibiotics.
“On Christmas Day, she finished the IVs but said she felt terrible.
“She tried to smile as much as she could that day and she did her best to be okay. She rarely complained.
“The Tuesday after Christmas she said she was so ill, so we took her to hospital.
“They said they had no beds free.
“We went back to the hospital on January 2 and there were no beds on the cystic fibrosis ward again, so Kayleigh was taken to another ward.
“Her lung function had dropped ten per cent to 36 per cent. She was coughing up blood, felt sick and couldn’t breathe.
“She was put on a non-invasive ventilator mask for two weeks which helped her to breathe.
“She was reduced to using a commode. She was diagnosed with bronchopneumonia, and the doctors said we would have to look at the possibility of a lung transplant when she was better.
“Her doctors were liaising with the intensive care unit for two weeks, who told us that she wasn’t ill enough to be admitted to intensive care.
“We went to visit her and she was on oxygen, but she panicked because she wanted the ventilator mask back on.
“She went blue because she was getting herself worked up.
“I pulled the emergency cord. She was terrified.
“She was so scared of going to sleep in case she didn’t wake up.
“The hospital called me on January 16 to tell me to come in because they were transferring Kayleigh to intensive care.
“She seemed better. She had eaten some Rice Krispies and some yoghurts.
“She had the ventilator mask back on, which was doing 90 per cent of her breathing for her.
“But then she started to get worse.
“She was put on a ventilator at 11pm and was given fluids. The doctors were doing everything they could for her.
“But two hours later she was in an induced coma. She looked so peaceful.
“We left at about 2am on January 17, but we were called a few hours later by the hospital.
“We went to the hospital straightaway and the doctors told us there was nothing more we could do for her.
“I was hysterical. They told us that if they put any more air into her lungs, they would explode.
“It was truly unbearable.
“The last thing she said to me was ‘I’m so sorry I’ve put you through this. I love you’.
“She was terrified that cystic fibrosis would kill her, but it was pneumonia that took her away from us.
“Something so simple and unavoidable as a cough has taken my perfect daughter away.”
Kayleigh leaves also leaves behind brothers Kristopher, 30, and Daniel, 25, and boyfriend Adam Whitehouse, 41.
Dawn, a self-employed cleaner, added: “The past few weeks have been a living nightmare for all of us. We just can’t believe it.
“She was the perfect daughter and sister. Kayleigh has left a huge emptiness in our hearts.
“She was beautiful inside and out. She was such a wonderful woman who fought until the end.
“She was absolutely amazing. I couldn’t have wished for a better daughter.
“She had 28 wonderful years.
“Despite having CF she always put others first.
“She was fun, bubbly, outgoing, and had a wonderful sparkle in her eyes.
“Kay and I shared a closeness that only a mother and daughter can. I’m going to miss her terribly.
“Kay was the perfect daughter and sister – there could not have been two Kayleighs in the world.”
Since Kayleigh’s death, her family have raised £1,000 for the Cystic Fibrosis Trust.