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Life Chez Dee Episode #92: #thinkSepsis

This week it was announced that the University of Strathclyde had developed a test for sepsis; a test which would cut the time down for waiting for the results to under three minutes, rather than the 72 hours as it is currently.

Fantastic I thought, another step in the right direction. Anything which cuts down the diagnosis time has got to be good. Every hour delay in the diagnosis of sepsis and antibiotic treatment given, increases the likelihood of death. Time is not on your side with this disease.

I was contacted by a journalist from a local radio station to give my thoughts on this*. They kindly broadcasted snippets on their hourly bulletins. During my interview, I was asked asked “is it a bittersweet pill to swallow that this test has now been developed? It could potentially save thousands; but you lost your child to sepsis because the test then wasn’t quick enough.” I actually hadn’t thought of that question, or indeed an answer to it until then. I have no resentment like that. You really can’t think like that.

Time moves on. There are developments. There are new medicines all the time. Go back years ago and many people died from diseases and conditions, which we wouldn’t think twice about today. Today we have vaccinations, we have antibiotics, we have much more knowledge. Go back a few years … and I’m not talking hundreds of years …. Maybe go back to when my grandparents were growing up, when there were no antibiotics. How many lives were lost then, compared to how many we save now with the use of antibiotics.

It’s the same thing.

Would a quicker test have saved Edward? … I will never know. Edward was extremely poorly by the time he reached hospital. I can’t really predict the answer to that one, nor do I want to really. Edward’s symptoms got under my radar though. He didn’t really have anything specific … until it was too late. We called an ambulance when my gut said I didn’t like what I was seeing … but it was too late. This is why I work so hard to tell EVERYONE about what to look for; to trust their instincts; to act fast. I think the bitter pill is the not knowing or being aware of the disease. It certainly never entered my head that my children were susceptible to either meningitis or sepsis. I thought there was a danger when they were babies, or when they went off to university, but it never crossed my mind that there was a danger at any other age. I consider myself fairly clued up as a parent; and fairly on the ball; but I wasn’t aware of this danger …. And I’m pretty confident in saying that I don’t think many other parents were aware either.

So as this test is not going to be in use for another three to five years, we still need to be vigilant. We still need to raise awareness of sepsis, and we still need to educate people on knowing the signs and symptoms to look out for. And when I say people, I mean EVERYONE …. including health care professionals. They also need to be vigilant; they also need to #thinksepsis.

by Elizabeth Dee

[This piece was originally published by The Edward Dee Fund; republished by Elizabeth Dee on Life Chez Dee on 20th January 2021]

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