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Dublin: 18 °C Friday 14 August, 2020

'Doctors did everything they could but it was just too late' - Families warn about dangers of sepsis

The condition can develop from any infection and can be difficult to diagnose.

Source: HSE Ireland/YouTube

LOVED ONES WITH friends and family who’ve died from sepsis are marking World Sepsis Day by urging people to be aware of the fatal condition. 

Sepsis is a life-threatening reaction to an infection where a body’s immune system attacks its own tissues and organs.

About one in five people who develop sepsis will die but with early recognition and treatment the risk can be reduced.

The condition can develop from any infection and can be difficult to spot so the HSE is urging people to be aware of the symptoms.  

Symptoms are varied but include things like shivering, a fever, being pale or discoloured or experiencing extreme pain or discomfort. 

Although the condition can affect anyone, it is it is more common in the very young, the elderly or people with pre-existing conditions or a weakened immune system.

To mark today and the beginning of the HSE’s Sepsis Awareness Month, several family members of those affected have spoken about their experiences of the condition. 

Audrey McGahon from Co Clare has spoken about her daughter Molly, who recovered from sepsis but who still faces life-altering challenges including a chronic lung condition and being left with sixteen pins in each leg due to how it affected her muscles. 

“Molly was at school that day. She had come home early and she just said she didn’t feel well. She had a pain in her back area so you automatically think kidneys. She did complain about being warm, so we took her temperature and it was 38.5,” Audrey explains.

After going to a doctor nothing major was identified but they decided to go to a hospital, where her temperature had reached 39 degrees. Audrey explained that the nurses in the hospital were alarmed by her condition and that septic shock was identified two hours later. 

“Just don’t take any chances,” Audrey says, “There were no huge warnings so just don’t wait.”

Source: HSE Ireland/YouTube

Former Irish football international Stephen Carr lost his mother through sepsis and he has also spoken about the condition. 

“My mam just had the normal flu over the Christmas period, wasn’t really shaking it off. A week, eight days later, she was still struggling a bit,” Stephen says. 

After she deteriorated she was taken to hospital and diagnosed with sepsis. 

“I think, which we didn’t realise, she has sepsis going on.

My mam was a healthy woman, she was 64 and went to the gym a good few times a week. And for it to go from that, a bit of flu, to passing away was quite a shock. 

Source: HSE Ireland/YouTube

As part of advice in guarding against the condition, the Dr Martina Healy of the HSE’s sepsis programme said that maintaining a healthy lifestyle and diet as well as vaccinating against the infections like the flu can all reduce the risk of sepsis. 

“The next most effective way is early recognition and treatment. This is not simple. Sepsis evolves over time and the pace of its development depends on the patient’s general health status, their genetic response to infection and the characteristics of the infection,” she adds.

You can find out more about sepsis on the HSE’s website

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Rónán Duffy

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