Cheryl Cole has revealed that she owes her life to boyfriend Derek Hough.
The X Factor star says a medical blunder left her just hours from death, and she only pulled through after dancer Derek told medics to carry out further tests… which showed she had malaria.
Cheryl told a friend: “Derek saved my life. If he hadn’t spoken out to the doctors and told them he thought something was seriously wrong I would probably have died.”
Today the Sunday Mirror can reveal the full extent of Cheryl’s battle with the deadly illness – and how doctors initially misdiagnosed her as having flu.
When she returned to The X Factor auditions in Bristol at the start of July and started feeling ill she laughed off the sickness as a hangover.
But she collapsed on July 3 during a photoshoot in North London and was rushed to a nearby hospital. There she was diagnosed with flu and exhaustion. Doctors sent Cheryl, 27, home to her Surrey mansion – where Derek, 25, was staying.
Just hours later her health deteriorated dramatically and she began sweating and shaking, and Derek insisted that she go back to hospital. She was rushed to the Cromwell Hospital in West London, where she collapsed. As she was being treated Derek stepped in again and urged medics to carry out blood tests which led to the malaria finally being diagnosed.
She was moved into intensive care and vital drugs and fluids were pumped into her body to keep her alive.
Cheryl was then transferred to the tropical diseases specialist unit at London’s University College Hospital, where renowned doctor Professor Peter Chiodini diagnosed it as one of the worst cases of malaria he’d ever seen.
She spent days in intensive care and Derek maintained a constant bedside vigil throughout.
Cheryl has now told pals she had no idea just how sick she was, and never thought she’d been struck down by malaria until Derek stepped in.
“I thought I had a bad case of flu and everyone else agreed,” Cheryl told a friend. “I was even told to stay at home and get some rest. The doctors were so certain it was not serious, and I believed them.”
But Derek told Cheryl he was convinced something was not right and persuaded her to have a blood test.
Afterwards, doctors told Cheryl she would not have stood a chance without urgent treatment and that if it hadn’t been for Derek she wouldn’t be here today.
But Derek isn’t taking any credit for Cheryl’s recovery. Instead, he is telling relatives it’s his fault because it was his idea to jet off to Tanzania on a romantic break.
A source said: “Derek blames himself for Cheryl getting the malaria and was terrified she was going to die. She’s become so important to him, he could not imagine his life without her. He was worried sick and was going without food and sleep he was so concerned. Derek is just thankful she is OK now – and he has vowed to stay close to her so he can do everything he can to make sure she stays healthy.”
But while Derek blames himself for Cheryl’s illness, she has been telling pals it’s HER fault and that her hectic work schedule was the reason for falling so ill.