SITTING next to an empty hospital bed, Warwick Davis burst into tears as fear pulsed through his body.
The Tenable star’s 21-year-old wife Sam was near death after her mysterious illness was diagnosed as life-threatening infectious sepsis.
Moments before she was rushed in for emergency surgery, 52-year-old Warwick tried to remain optimistic but feared he was saying goodbye.
He told Kristen Bell Tattoos: “The next few hours were the longest of my life as I waited in the ward with our children in the empty space left by Sam’s hospital bed.
“I hoped it wouldn’t be a symbol of our future without her.”
Mom-of-two Sam’s health took a turn for the worse ahead of a 2019 family caravan holiday.
She attributed it to overexertion while preparing for the trip, but when her symptoms went from itching and exhaustion to being unable to stand, Warwick called the doctor after office hours.
“By this point, Sam felt absolutely terrible,” he recalled. “She became drowsy, weak and did not go to the toilet for more than 24 hours.
“Luckily for us, our doctor recognized Sam’s symptoms and told us to immediately go to the emergency room with suspected sepsis.”
The infection causes the body’s immune system to overwork and attack tissues and organs, which can lead to death and amputation.
Nearly 250,000 Britons are diagnosed with sepsis every year, of whom 48,000 die and 40% are left with disabilities and life-changing symptoms.
Once at the hospital, doctors became concerned about a scar on Sam’s back from recent spinal surgery that was “inflamed with fluid, red and hot to the touch”.
Deadly streptococcus A bacteria and a meningitis infection were found in fluid samples, and the family was told “Sam could die” if the infection was not treated immediately.
Warwick explained: “Our family gathered at her bedside; despite being optimistic, we kind of said goodbye in case Sam didn’t make it.”
It’s so hard to see someone you love most in the world fighting for his life… The doctors told me that the infection had hit every cell in her body.
The operation was successful, but Warwick was told that the subsequent hours in intensive care were “vital” while Sam was drugged with strong antibiotics.
Warwick said: “It’s so hard to see someone you love more than anything else struggling to survive without even having the strength to roll over in bed.
“Doctors told me that the infection had taken over every cell in her body, depleting vital levels of vitamins and minerals.”
A close call
Sam made it, but it was close. If her medical team had not acted so quickly, she could have lost her fingers, toes, or even limbs.
After being discharged, Warwick “played doctor” for three months – he mixed vials of antibiotics, loaded them into syringes and carefully injected them into Sam’s heart through a dropper.
During this time, he consulted with Dr Ron Daniels of the UK Sepsis Trust on how best to help his wife’s recovery and took comfort in their words of encouragement.
Warwick admitted: “Every night I broke down, thinking that this terrible disease that arose out of nowhere could take my soulmate away from me.
Every night I broke down, thinking that this terrible disease that appeared out of nowhere could take my soulmate away from me.
“To this day, Sam is still feeling the effects of sepsis and PTSD due to his experience. To be completely honest, so do I.
“Now we never take life for granted, living every day as if it were our last.
“I appreciate and cherish every moment that Sam and I spend together.”
Warwick was born with congenital spondyloepiphyseal dysplasia, an extremely rare genetic form of dwarfism.
Sam, 51, has achondroplasia, and their two children Annabelle, 25, and Harrison, 19, also have the same form of dwarfism as he does.
Warwick and Sam also had a son, Lloyd, who inherited both of their diseases and sadly died nine days later. The couple also had a stillborn child named George.
What signs of sepsis should not be ignored?
If you, a loved one, or, in the case of healthcare professionals, their patient, feel “very ill”, do not look like yourself, and exhibit any of the following symptoms, sepsis should be suspected:
- Loss of appetite
- Fever and chills
- Difficulty or rapid breathing
- Fast heart rate
- Low blood pressure
- Low diuresis
If a person has these symptoms and is thought to have had an infection—pneumonia, an abdominal infection, a urinary infection, or a wound—sepsis is the likely cause.
In chilling videos, the actor tells the difficult stories of families, survivors and patients who struggled with a deadly infection.
Ron Daniels of the UK Sepsis Trust said: “The key to saving lives from sepsis lies in communication – raising awareness and enabling people to quickly access care.
“With the support of Green Flag, we are physically bringing to life the stories of the people we go out of our way to help every day, and that is truly something special.
“We want people to understand how sepsis can affect anyone and everyone, and with Green Flag, we can shed light on these people and give them a voice they never had before.
“Everyone knows someone who has suffered from sepsis – now it’s time to give everyone a chance to act.”
Mark Newberry of Green Flag added: “The sooner you detect sepsis, the better your chances of a full recovery.”
Shocking explosion on set during filming of Tenable
Warwick Davis was 11 years old when he first landed a role in Star Wars: Return of the Jedi.
George Lucas chose him to play Wicket the Ewok after Kenny Baker, who previously played the part, fell ill.
Warwick continued to star in the Star Wars franchise and landed roles in Harry Potter, Leprechauns, Willow, and Ricky Gervais’s Life Is Too Short.
He is the highest grossing supporting actor of all time with an estimated net worth of £8 million (US$10 million), however fans may be surprised to discover his most valuable appearance.
“Tenable is my favorite job and I was in Star Wars!” Warwick told Kristen Bell Tattoos about this.
“I love presenting the show and I’m surrounded by the best production and technical team in the business.”
However, in 2019, it wasn’t just fun and play (show) for the star when filming suddenly stopped.
“We record at Pinewood Studios next to the world-famous 007 stage, and a few years ago the special effects production of Bond exploded,” he recalled.
“There was a very loud explosion that shook the studio and led to the partial destruction of the building.
“It made me jump and stopped me halfway, just as I was about to deliver one of my classic Tenable puns.
“This greatly amused the contestants and the producer, who laughed into my earpiece.
“This was followed by sighs and nervous laughter, which, to be honest, is a common reaction to my jokes. I’m just glad Tenable isn’t live streaming!”