A girl dies of an embolism linked to her contraceptive pill

Abbey Parkes, a 20-year-old girl from England, was just entering the peak of her life. She worked as a legal secretary, lived with her boyfriend, was extremely popular and well-loved. Nothing seemed to be going wrong, except for a small detail that went completely unnoticed for years — one that led to a tragedy.

In August 2016, Abbey was found unconscious and no longer breathing after collapsing in her home. She had suffered a cardiac arrest and there was nothing the paramedics could do to save her life. 

Two weeks prior to her death, Abbey had experienced chest pain, as well as nausea, headaches that came and went, and pain in the right side of her body. After visiting numerous specialists, her illness remained undiagnosed and she was simply prescribed painkillers. At this stage, she didn't display any life-threatening symptoms and carried on as usual, going to work and thinking nothing of it.

Up until now, it hadn't been clear why Abbey had suddenly passed away but an inquest recently revealed the true reason for her death: she had suffered a pulmonary embolism linked to her contraceptive pill. "The deceased died from a complication of Logynon contraceptive drug therapy, further complicated by the previously-unknown genetic Factor V Leiden clotting disorder," concluded the assistant coroner Margaret Jones.

Abbey had been taking the pill since she was 14 because her hormones were all over the place when she started having her period. This is not an isolated case: millions of women rely on the pill, predominantly because of its effectiveness in preventing pregnancy, but also for its numerous other advantages. But in Abbey's case, the pill was highly dangerous because of her inherited disease, and was prescribed without any warning or further investigation into her medical history.

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The pill that Abbey had taken for six years had had a fatal effect on her: a blood clot had formed and this, together with her illness, caused the young woman to have a pulmonary embolism leading to a cardiac arrest that resulted in her death.

Her family was in complete shock and couldn't believe what had happened. Though incredibly rare, Abbey's case just goes to show that there's always a risk. If Abbey had known about her Factor V mutation, her tragic death could have been avoided simply by not taking the pill and receiving treatment for her illness.

Abbey's mom wants her daughter's death to serve as a wake-up call and help raise awareness about such risks. In doing so, it will hopefully prevent other people from suffering a similar fate. 

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