Daughter of Midlands man who died from sepsis calls for greater awareness
A Tullamore woman Aisling O’Rourke, who lost her father John O’Rourke to sepsis, almost two years ago when he was 67, recently secured the support of Offaly County Council to light Tullamore Town Hall red on World Sepsis Awareness Day on Wednesday last.
Aisling is calling on people to know the signs of sepsis.
“To this day I regret not knowing the signs of sepsis. In 2018, my father had a stroke while I was at home. I had grown up seeing the FAST ads about stroke on TV and knew that I had to call 999. However, I was completely unaware of the signs of sepsis, Dad had been in and out of hospital for over two years. At no stage were we told the signs of sepsis. I want every house in Ireland to know what to look out for, I want families to know to call 999 if they suspect sepsis, to ask their doctors ‘could it be sepsis?’
“I will always wonder would dad have suffered less if I had known the signs? I want to use my voice and experience as a media professional to do what I can to prevent other families going through this awful trauma. My father was a passionate public servant and believed in public service, I would like his legacy to be that if anyone suspects sepsis they know to act immediately.”
The gesture to light Tullamore Town Hall read, she says was to honour her father “and all those who have lost their lives to sepsis and those who live with the effects of sepsis.”
Councillor and Cathaoirleach Eddie Fitzpatrick, Councillor Declan Harvey and Jean Ryan, Offaly County Council represented the council on the night.
Councillor Eddie Fitzpatrick, Cathaoirleach Offaly County Council said, “Offaly County Council are delighted to support Aisling and her mother Marie Goretti to highlight the dangers of sepsis and to honour the life of their dear father and husband John O’Rourke, and all those who have lost lives to Sepsis.”
Meanwhile, Midland hospitals and Offaly County Council have joined forces to raise awareness and ask communities to be aware of the signs and symptoms of sepsis and ask healthcare workers ‘could this be sepsis’?
On Wednesday, September 13, Midland hospitals and Offaly County Council marked World Sepsis Day by encouraging their communities to be aware of the signs and symptoms of sepsis. If initial symptoms of infection are getting worse seek medical help. Ask your healthcare worker ‘could this be sepsis’. It’s important to prevent infection which in turn will prevent sepsis so keep all wounds clean and avail of vaccinations.
The day also provides hospitals with an opportunity to raise awareness among all healthcare professionals about early recognition of sepsis and timely prompt initiation of the Sepsis 6 protocols and procedures when sepsis is suspected.
Sepsis is a life-threatening condition caused by an infection that affects the organs and kills 1 in 5 people who develop it. Sepsis kills more people each year than heart attacks, stroke or almost any cancer.
The HSE Sepsis Programme has developed information leaflets to help raise awareness of the signs and symptoms of sepsis, which will be available in GP surgeries and community pharmacies.
Anyone with an infection can be at risk of sepsis, even if you are taking antibiotics however, this does not mean every infection will develop in to sepsis. Those most at risk are aged 75 or over, have certain medical conditions such as cancer, COPD, diabetes, chronic kidney or liver disease, have a weak immune system or are very young children. Maternal sepsis is rare but can develop during pregnancy or up to 6 weeks (42 days) after the birth, a miscarriage or an abortion. This is because pregnancy causes changes in your immune system that make you more likely to get infections.
Dr Michael O’Dwyer, Clinical Lead, HSE Sepsis Programme, said: “It’s extremely important to recognise the symptoms of sepsis and to ask ‘could it be sepsis?’. But it’s as important to reduce your risk of developing it in the first place. There are things people can do to reduce their risk of sepsis, such as good personal hygiene, keeping up to date with your vaccinations, taking antibiotics as prescribed, and following medical advice recommended for chronic conditions.”
Karen Davis, Sepsis Lead for the Dublin Midlands Hospital Group said: “World Sepsis Day provides an great opportunity to further highlight the dangers of sepsis with our staff and among our communities. The National Sepsis Programme continue to develop and update existing training resources for healthcare workers and patient information leaflets encouraging members of the public to be aware of the signs and symptoms of sepsis and when to seek medical attention. Sepsis education is ongoing throughout the year but the month of September enables added focus.”
Signs and symptoms of sepsis in adults (including maternity) are:
S Slurred speech, new confusion, too sick to communicate, drowsiness.
E Extreme shivering, muscle aches, fever.
P Has not passed urine in the last 12 hours and does not feel like passing urine.
S Shortness of breath, lips tinged with blue, feels like your heart is racing, dizzy when you sit or stand.
I I feel like I'm going to die.
S Skin mottled and discoloured, new rash that is still visible when pressed on with a clear glass (glass test).
The signs and symptoms of sepsis in children are:
• Very fast breathing
• Fits or convulsions
• Mottled skin (irregular colour) bluish or pale
• A rash that does not fade when you press it
• Unusually sleepy and difficult to wake
• Unusually cold when you touch them
• Has had no pee for more than 12 hours
If the child is under 5 years, watch in particular if they are not feeding, vomiting repeatedly and/or are dry when you change them and they have not had a wet nappy for the last 12 hours.
For further information, see www.hse.ie/sepsis and see #Sepsis Awareness and #RecogniseSepsis on HSE social media.