Thousands of patients at a British medical clinic received some horrific news just before Christmas when they were told via text that they had aggressive lung cancer.
But the messages from the Askern Medical Practice in Doncaster, England, turned out to be a mistake.
“Please accept our sincere apologies for the previous text message sent,” the clinic said in a follow-up, according to NPR. “This has been sent in error. Our message to you should have read We wish you a very merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.”
The BBC said it took up to an hour for patients to receive the correction. Patient Sarah Hargreaves told the broadcaster she had been waiting for biopsy results when she received the message and “felt sick to my teeth and broke down.”
Patient Chris Reed told The Sun that his partner burst into tears upon hearing the news. He called the clinic, but couldn’t get through ― and then went in person.
“They went from, ‘You’ve got lung cancer’ to ‘Merry Christmas’ in about an hour,” he told the newspaper. “Unbelievable.”
Patient Vicky Southgate said on Facebook that she was “shaking and close to tears” after getting the message, according to The Independent.
And patient Carl Chegwin told NPR he would not be returning to the practice.
“That kind of thing breaks people and drives people to despair,” he was quoted as saying.
The clinic has not publicly commented on the matter after sending out the correction message.