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Mom Explains How She Almost Lost An Eye After A Tiny Cut Sparked A Dangerous Eye Infection

PA Real Life/Collect

**WARNING: GRAPHIC IMAGES

Claire Taylor has released shocking pictures showing how a tiny cut sparked a dangerous skin infection that caused her head to swell and left doctors fearing she would lose her eye.

Taylor thought little of it when she caught herself on a car door one day in July 2019, sustaining a tiny cut to the corner of her left eye.

But within 36 hours, her face had swollen dramatically and she began drifting in and out of consciousness.

Claire's eye at its most swollen (PA Real Life/Collect)

"It was horrendous. I was so out of it," Taylor said.

The only other person at home with Taylor was her daughter Carmen, who did not realize how ill her mom was.

But luckily the little girl managed to open the door to a friend of Taylor's and paramedics were called.

Claire and Carmen most recently (PA Real Life/Collect)

She was blue-lighted to hospital and diagnosed with cellulitis, a potentially serious infection affecting the deeper layers of the skin.

Despite medics fearing she would lose her left eye, she managed to keep it but has been left with ongoing balance problems after the build-up of fluid and pressure affected her brain.

“If my friend hadn't decided to check on me, I believe without a doubt I'd be dead," Taylor said.

Claire's initial injury (PA Real Life/Collect)

“Poor Carmen would have been in the house with me. It doesn't bear thinking about. She was petrified and didn't want to look at me for a while when my eye was still swollen," she continued.

“I've spoken to her since and explained how to call 999 and what to say and now I want to spread the message to other parents that it's important kids know what to do in an emergency."

“I've always thought life is for living so it's really shocking how close I came to losing my own."

Claire's eye as it began to swell (PA Real Life/Collect)

As she looks back on her “rollercoaster" of a year, Taylor explained how the cut that left her fighting for her life was caused when she caught herself on the edge of a car door as she came home from an afternoon with friends.

Although she never dreamed it would end up being so serious, to be on the safe side, she went to the pharmacist the next morning to buy some cream to keep the area clean.

“It looked a little bruised, but I assumed I'd just caught the bone awkwardly," she said.

Later that afternoon, she decided to take Carmen for a bike ride.

But as she was helping tie her shoelaces, the schoolgirl accidentally kneed her mum in the eye.

Claire and Carmen (PA Real Life/Collect)

“Obviously she didn't do it on purpose, but it was so painful," she said.

“I had no idea at the time, but I later found out that the infection had caused an abscess to form under the skin of my cut. Carmen accidentally hitting it with her knee essentially sent the infection flooding round my body."

Claire's swollen eye (PA Real Life/Collect)

By the time she got home from her cycle, Taylor's eye had swollen and was streaming.

“I don't know why but I still didn't think it would be serious – you'd never imagine such a small cut would make you so poorly," she said.

“I sent a video of it to my friend Martine, laughing and messing about. I was saying, 'Look at this!' in a jokey way."

Claire in the hospital (PA Real Life/Collect)

Taylor then woke at about 1am the following morning, vomiting and groggy.

Becoming increasingly delirious, and by 8am she was drifting in and out of consciousness.

Thankfully, the friend who she had been messaging the previous evening was in the area and phoned her to check in, heading over immediately when she heard how groggy she sounded.

Claire in the hospital (PA Real Life/Collect)

“She got here at about 10am. I couldn't even move at that point but thankfully, Carmen thought to let her in and my friend phoned 999," Taylor said.

“I'm a single mom. There are no other adults in my house, nobody to check on me or know if I don't get up as normal in the morning. It's so lucky that my friend was there for me. She stayed with Carmen after the paramedics arrived and I was taken me to hospital."

Whisked to Basildon University Hospital, tests showed that the levels of infection in Taylor's blood were extremely high and she was diagnosed with orbital cellulitis.

Next, she was blue-lighted to a specialist eye unit at Southend University Hospital.

“At that point, I hadn't looked in the mirror, so didn't realize how swollen my face was. A friend came to visit and took a picture to show me. My entire head had ballooned, and you couldn't even see my eye, my face was that bad," she said.

Claire now (PA Real Life/Collect)

“But to be honest, at the time, I was so unwell that it didn't even register," she continued.

“I was so delirious that I could see and hear things happening around me, but was virtually unconscious. At first, I wasn't responding to treatment and a few days later, I heard a medic saying, 'This girl's going to lose her eye.' I'm not easily scared, but I was petrified in that moment."

Claire back home recovering (PA Real Life/Collect)

Over the next few days, Taylor was pumped full of antibiotics, and slowly began to rally.

Still believing she was going to lose her eye, she managed to be positive, even designing her very own prosthetic from her hospital bed.

“I'm quite a roll with the punches kind of person, so I thought, 'Okay, I'll lose my eye. But I'll have the most amazing false eye in the world,'" she said. “I wanted it to be really glam and different, covered in Swarovski crystals."

Claire going home with an eye patch on (PA Real Life/Collect)

Thankfully, Taylor's eye was saved, and after eight days, she was discharged.

At home, she was incredibly diligent about keeping the affected area clean to speed up her recovery.

Too afraid to see her mum so unwell, little Carmen went to stay with her grandparents until Taylor's wound had begun to heal.

Claire and Carmen (PA Real Life/Collect)

“The first time I saw her after everything happened, she came running out of the car and into my arms," she recalled.

“She kissed my eye and told me that she knew it still wasn't well. She's only a kid but she has such a beautiful soul. We have a lovely bond."

But she was still left with some balance and vision problems, which slowed her recovery and meant she didn't feel anything like herself for another three months.

“People don't always notice, but the tissue around my eye was so damaged that it is misshapen now," Taylor continued.

“The vision in my right eye is fine, but I can't see people or things at all if they're on my left-hand side. I've also still got balance problems to this day. At first, I was really weak and fatigued. I'd pass out on the sofa and sleep for hours on end."

“But I knew I had to get strong. I felt like Rocky, trying to rebuild myself. I'm a very independent person so I knew it was up to me. I got through by trying to see the lighter side and keeping my sense of humor."

Claire wearing her collection (PA Real Life/Collect)

Being so gravely ill reaffirmed Taylor's belief that life must be lived to the full and gave her the motivation to finally realize a long-standing dream and design her own fashion line.

Before her illness, she had worked as a window dresser in a fashion wholesalers, but, being artistic, had wanted to try designing.

So, she began working tirelessly to build up contacts from all over the world.

Claire wearing her collection (PA Real Life/Collect)

“I really got to know the industry, and thought about all the things I wanted to design myself," she said.

“At school, my favorite subjects were art, English and history, so I began to think of ways I could bring them all to life through fashion."

And in December 2019, she started Uni X Brand by Fengswa.

Claire wearing her collection (PA Real Life/Collect)

“I got the name Fengswa because I was talking to a friend one day and she mispronounced Feng Shui," she said.

“I thought it was funny, but it also stuck in my head and I realized it was a really memorable name."

Now, she is hoping to launch her line of unisex reversible clothing, which has been created using state-of-the art technology, tapestry and machinery.

Claire and Carmen (PA Real Life/Collect)

“To me, the clothes represent a visual journey. There are lots of nods to history and art," she continued.

“They're multi-use. There's a rollneck that turns into a hoodie so you can change from the gym to lunch. My tagline is, 'One for all, and all for one' because they're for everybody."

“I want to educate people. They don't have to just read about prints, iconography and textiles from history in books – they can wear them."

Claire wearing her collection (PA Real Life/Collect)

“It feels strange to call myself a designer, as I never went to school for it or anything like that," she concluded.

“This past year has taught me that death is close, so you might as well go for it. I feel like I've found what I was born to do."