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‘Covid vaccine blood clot nearly killed me but others should still get the jab’

A 32-year-old mum who got blood clots in the days after her Covid jab says everyone should still get it.

Lauren Briggs had her first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine on March 25.

Since then, she’s she’s twice been admitted to hospital, developed life-threatening blood clots and will be on the drug warfarin for at least the next six months.

At one point her pain was so bad she lapsed into “crazy dreams” and contacted her family from her hospital bed warning them she might not come home.

But the mum-of-two, who was also treated for meningitis, has told North Wales Live she believes people should still get the jab, then stay vigilant for any potential side effects that can occur in very rare cases.

The UK Government says that for every million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine delivered, around four people develop an “extremely rare” condition involving blood clots and unusual bleeding.

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Lauren Briggs on her sick bed
Lauren was left sick and in pain as she suffered what doctors believe could be a reaction to the vaccine

Lauren experienced different types of blood clots from the type linked with the AstraZeneca jab, cerebral venous sinus thrombosis.

Lauren claims doctors confirmed “several” blood clots in her leg and “several” in her lungs, resulting in diagnoses of Deep Vein Thrombosis and a pulmonary embolism.

The mum from Connah’s Quay, Deeside, is now urging anyone who suffers suffer post-jab illnesses, however minor, to seek immediate treatment.

Lauren is no anti-vaxxer. “I’ve had all my vaccinations and my children will have them too,” she said.

“Obviously I can’t now have a second jab of the AstraZeneca but I still believe in the programme.

“I just want people, especially younger women, to be aware they need to act if they feel ill after the jab.

“Had I not gone to hospital, I probably would have died.”

On March 25 Lauren celebrated getting her first jab at the same time as her mum. The next day her arm didn’t even feel numb. It was so easy, she thought.

As mum to Maisie, four, and Charlie, two, Lauren returned to domestic life with partner Scott Ellis, 33.

Lauren Briggs with her two children
Lauren with her two children

A former beauty consultant, her last job was on the Lancôme counter at Chester’s Boots store.

On Easter Sunday, April 4, nine days after her jab, things started to change.

“I woke up that morning with a horrendous headache,” she said.

“I ached all over and felt a bit dizzy. I couldn’t eat and I spent the entire day in bed – I could barely lift my head from the pillow.

“My first thought was that it must be Covid.”

A Covid testing centre was just round the corner and Lauren managed to book a slot that day. Within 24 hours a negative result came back.

In the meantime Lauren developed terrible pain in her left leg. She put it down to cramp, having spent so much time in bed.

On Tuesday lunchtime she decided to leave her sick bed and take a bath. She noticed a varicose vein in her left leg was red, swollen and sensitive to touch.

“I knew it wasn’t normal but at the time it did not occur to me it had anything to do with the jab,” she said.

A nursing friend advised her to seek help. A call to 101 yielded an ambulance and a trip to the Countess of Chester Hospital.

Initial observations were fine but a D-dimer test for blood clots produced a reading of 20,000ng/mL, 40 times over what it should be.

Immediately Lauren was given two stomach injections of a blood thinning drug. She was then sent home to await a CT scan of her lungs, which took place the next day.

Lauren Briggs on IV drip and her children, Maisie, four, and Charlie, two
While on an IV drip in hospital, Lauren couldn’t wait to return home to see her children, Maisie, four, and Charlie, two

By now Lauren was in acute pain. As she took her seat in a waiting room, her leg felt like it was exploding.

“I was so breathless I could barely walk between the wards,” she said.

“A nurse gave me a cup of tea and calmed me down.

“But the pain was getting worse and I began crying. I begged a passing doctor for pain relief and he put me in a bed. As soon as my leg was raised, the pain subsided a bit.

“Ten minutes later two doctors and a consultant arrived, drew the cubicle curtains, listened to my chest and told me I had blood clots in my lungs.

“I burst into tears again and asked them if I was going to die.”

Diagnosis and expensive treatment

More tests were ordered – CT and MRI scans of her brain, and an ultrasound scan of her left leg.

These, said Lauren, confirmed “several” blood clots in her leg and “several” in her lungs. She had Deep Vein Thrombosis and a pulmonary embolism.

Blood tests confirmed more: anaemia, vitamin D deficiency and “extremely” low blood platelet counts.

Lauren was prescribed Intravenous Immunoglobulin (IVIg) to fight off infections.

“I was given 10 bottles of IVIg,” she said.

“I Googled it later and discovered each bottle costs £600.

“That blew me away. I hate to think that treatment alone cost the NHS £6,000.”

Lauren continued: “A doctor told me they thought my blood clots were caused by my vaccination.”

“They said there could be no other reason – but they couldn’t be sure as no one had ever seen it there before.

“To confirm it 100%, my samples were sent to the Royal Liverpool University Hospital for further checks.”

‘My whole body was shaking’

Admitted to the Countess, Lauren’s condition continued to worsen. When wheeled to haematology a blanket was placed over her head as her eyes were so sensitive to light.

She also had a stiff neck and a headache that a “bullet wouldn’t cure”. But given her diagnosis she could only receive paracetamol, delivered intravenously.

“I’ve migraines before but they were nothing in comparison,” said Lauren.

“In bed that night, after the lights went out, my whole body was shaking and convulsing because I was in so much pain.

“That night was horrendous. I had all sorts of crazy pain-filled dreams.

“That was the scariest time – I didn’t think I was going to wake up the next day.”

She did, but it was with a feeling of dread. Video-calling her family by WhatsApp, she told them to prepare for the worst.

By Friday morning more symptoms were appearing. As Lauren could not pull her chin to her chest, a consultant began to fear meningitis.

He ordered a swab check and, for confirmation, a lumbar puncture. Given the approaching weekend, the latter would have to wait until Monday.

She never took the test. Over the weekend her condition improved a little and, in any case, the doctors were reluctant to carry out an invasive procedure on a patient receiving blood-thinning drugs. On the balance of risk, it was decided to abort the test.

“So I will never know if I actually had meningitis, even though I was given drugs to treat it,” said Lauren.

‘No precedent’

Desperate to be reunited with her kids, on Tuesday, April 13, she readily agreed to be discharged from hospital. She was handed iron tablets and warfarin blood-thinning drugs.

On her discharge form, she was formally diagnosed as having “vaccine-induced thrombosis and pulmonary thrombocytopenia”.

After a follow-up check on Thursday, Lauren was back home when her left leg began to swell again. The 101 service was unable to advise her because, according to Lauren, there was “no precedent” for her condition.

So she returned to A&E and was duly re-admitted to hospital. More scans revealed more blood clots but the next day she was discharged.

“The doctors told me it would continue happening and that I would have to remain on treatment for the next six months at least,” said Lauren.

“Up until that point, I hadn’t realised it would take so long.”

‘Please get checked out’

It’s taken Lauren a while to come to terms with the rare side-effects of Covid vaccination.

While in hospital, health regulators said that people aged under 30 would be offered an alternative to the AstraZeneca jab.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) said the decision was taken out of the utmost caution rather than any serious safety concerns over the AstraZeneca vaccine..

This wouldn’t have affected Lauren as she is over the age of 30 and would have received her first dose of the vaccine by the time the government made the decision.

However, Lauren is sanguine about a programme whose benefits far outweigh the negatives: an Oxford University study published last week suggested the risk of getting a blood clot after having Covid-19 is eight times higher than after being given the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine.

“When I first got blood clots, I wasn’t aware of the link to vaccination,” said Lauren.

“It was only when my boyfriend sent me a screengrab of a news report, while I was in hospital, that I began to put two and two together.

“That’s what worries me most. If I hadn’t gone to hospital in the first place, I might have died, no one knows for certain.

“I just want to make people aware of what my symptoms were, and that they should get themselves checked out as soon as possible if they have similar symptoms.”



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