A Huddersfield mum has told how her baby daughter contracted the life-threatening condition Sepsis - like Coronation Street’s Jack Webster.
Emma Haley, 36, of Cowlersley knows first-hand how terrifying sepsis - a blood poisoning infection in which the body attacks its own organs and tissues - can be.
Her two-year-old daughter Grace was just nine months old when her temperature soared and she was rushed to hospital just hours away from fatal organ failure.
Emma’s experience was mirrored on-screen in Coronation Street on Monday night when dad Kevin Webster is devastated to hear his son Jack is struck down by sepsis.
The condition can be hard to diagnose as it disguises itself as a virus but can arise as a result of any infection or even cuts and scrapes.
Mum-of-three Emma recalls: “Grace spiked a temperature out of nowhere and I gave her Calpol and she seemed to pick up and then I put her to bed. She didn’t have any rashes but was really irritable and it wasn’t until the following day when I got her up she couldn’t move and her breathing was fast.
“I took her to the doctors and they said could I take her to hospital so we went to Calderdale.
“Once we were in the hospital it all happened really fast. She was on the bed lifeless but still breathing.
“The doctors took us into a side room and said it was either sepsis or meningitis and they’d start her on medications for both.
“It’s the last thing you want for your child to go through.
“When the full blood count came back four hours later they told us it was sepsis which had spread to her kidneys from an undiagnosed urine infection.
“Fortunately they had caught it early and she responded to the treatment.
“Doctors later told us that if she’d been treated another three or four hours later her organs would have shut down and it could have been fatal.
“It’s absolutely terrifying.
“I think it’s so important to talk about Sepsis and raise awareness like with the Coronation Street storyline.”
National charity The Sepsis Trust says earlier diagnosis and treatment could prevent at least 14,000 unnecessary deaths every year and save millions of pounds.
Dr Ron Daniels, Chief Executive of the UK Sepsis Trust said: “We have been working very closely with Coronation Street both with the writers and the technical team over the last few months to ensure that the subject matter is dealt with both accurately and sensitively.
“It’s incredible that Coronation Street is raising the profile of a condition which affects so many people and yet until now has been so poorly recognised. It’s about shared responsibility and, together, we aim to empower both families and health professionals to ‘think sepsis’ and to change the way sepsis is handled in the UK.”
Geoffrey Keen, 70, of Milnsbridge also contracted sepsis last March and was rushed to HRI.
His step daughter Lisa Wilson, of Mirfield, said: “I took him to his GP as he’d been unwell with cold symptoms but was also struggling to wake up and had no energy.
“Within minutes of being seen he was in an ambulance and was then treated in resus.
“He was diagnosed with sepsis caused by pneumonia and put on medication. He stayed in hospital for two weeks.
“As a parent myself it’s worrying that sepsis disguises itself as a virus - that’s why it’s so it’s important to trust your instincts when you know something is wrong.
“The more awareness of sepsis the better.”
What is sepsis?
Sepsis, or blood poisoning, is the reaction to an infection in which the body attacks its own organs and tissues. If not diagnosed and treated quickly sepsis can rapidly lead to organ failure and death. Every year in the UK, at least 250,000 people develop sepsis, 44,000 die (that’s 120 people every single day), and 60,000 suffer permanent, life-changing after-effects. Despite the statistics, awareness of sepsis among the public and healthcare professionals is astonishingly low.
What are the warning signs of sepsis in children?
Feels abnormally cold to touch
Looks mottled, bluish or has very pale skin
Has a rash that does not fade when you press it
Is breathing very fast
Has a fit or convulsion
Is very lethargic or difficult to wake up
For more information go to sepsistrust.org for more information