World Sepsis Congress: Dads Share Their Daughters’ Battles with Sepsis

By the bioMérieux Connection Editors

One way to help prevent sepsis deaths is to raise awareness, about the existence of the condition itself and how to spot signs and symptoms. Some of the biggest advocates of sepsis awareness are survivors or those who have lost a loved one to sepsis.

During Session 14 of the 2nd World Sepsis Congress, survivors and bereaved families discussed their experiences with sepsis and how they have contributed to raising sepsis awareness.

The speakers at the roundtable included:

Peter Wilkinson spoke of his young daughter, Mia, who at the age of four became a quadriplegic after developing sepsis. Mia complained of a stomach ache and her parents became worried when she seemed sicker than she ever had before. After a trip to the hospital, Mia was diagnosed with a gastrointestinal bug and sent home.

But, Mia didn’t get better at home, and her parents rushed her back to the hospital the next day. At the hospital, Mia’s family learned that she had Influenza A, Influenza B, Respiratory Syncytial Virus, and an invasive Streptococcal A bacterial infection, which led to sepsis. After spending nearly a week on life support, Mia pulled through, although her arms and legs had to be amputated from the elbows and knees down.

Mia survived sepsis in part because her parents didn’t ignore the signs—although they did not know she had sepsis at the time, they recognized that something was not right. A doctor told Peter that if they had waited any longer to bring Mia to the hospital, they might have lost their daughter. Now, the family raises awareness so that others like them can quickly identify sepsis symptoms and ask, “Could it be sepsis?”

Dr. Carl Flatley talked about his daughter, Erin, who had a routine outpatient surgery and experienced more pain than expected while recovering at home. She visited hospitals multiple times, and despite displaying all the classic warning signs, none of her doctors considered sepsis until it was too late. Erin succumbed to sepsis and passed away at age 22.

If caught early, the infection underlying sepsis can be treated with antibiotics, while fluids and medications can help blood vessels to contract and increase blood pressure. Dr. Flatley is convinced that those interventions would have saved Erin. Her life and battle with sepsis inspired Dr. Flatley to found the Sepsis Alliance, which has dramatically improved the nation’s understanding of this deadly syndrome.

During Sepsis Awareness Month, bioMérieux Connection has shared resources to help spot sepsis, discussed the importance of pathogen detection and sepsis biomarkers, and created a handy infographic with quick facts about sepsis. Sepsis Awareness Month presents an opportunity for us to show support and solidarity with survivors, families, and those who have lost loved ones to sepsis, but it is important to continue spreading awareness year-round. Sepsis is currently the number one preventable cause of death worldwide, but constant advocacy and advances in rapid diagnostics can greatly contribute to the fight against sepsis.

Opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those of bioMérieux, Inc.

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