Sepsis, a form of inflammation caused by severe infection, can happen to anyone and is the leading pediatric killer worldwide. In April 2012 Rory Staunton (12) became sick after cutting himself while playing basketball, within days he had passed away from his undiagnosed sepsis.
Since his tragic untimely death Rory’s parents, Ciaran and Orlaith Staunton, have worked tirelessly to raise public awareness about this killer inflammation which kills 550 people every day in the United States alone and affects at least 750,000 people every year.
In January of this year Governor Andrew M Cuomo passed a New York state law, Rory's Regulation, which will save 8,000 lives per year. The new mandate orders that every hospital in the state adopt aggressive procedures to identify sepsis patients.
In Rory’s case the sepsis went undiagnosed. Every hour that sepsis goes untreated raises the risk of death by eight percent. This is of paramount importance as 50 percent of septic shock patients, which is caused from the infection, do not survive.
This September the Staunton family, their supporters and the Rory Staunton Foundation's advocates traveled to Washington where Ciaran testified in front of the U.S. Senate Health Committee. Senator Tom Harkin made a passionate call to raise awareness of sepsis and introduce new laws in every state in the United States.
He said “We can win this-we can talk to one another, we need the kind of regulations in every state so that we can recognize sepsis."
Ciaran told the Senate “We are calling on Congress to institute a federal nationwide program of education on early detection of sepsis with similar standards in all fifty states. We are also calling on Congress to create a comprehensive educational resource so that doctors, nurses and, yes, parents and patients can include sepsis as a possible diagnosis when a patient shows up in an emergency room with similar symptoms to Rory. Sepsis is not a deadly disease when caught in time. Antibiotics are remarkably effective and many die from ignorance of how to recognize the condition as Rory did.”
The message from the Rory Staunton Foundation has also spread to Europe. This summer Ciaran spoke at the first Sepsis Summit in Berlin where Professor Konrad Reinhart, Chairman of Global Sepsis Alliance called for a National Action Plan In Germany similar to Rory's Regulations, introduced in New York.
As Ciaran put it, speaking in Berlin, if sepsis were an individual he or she would be the most wanted criminal in the world. However, as it stands it remains the largest killer of children in the world, more than cancer, HIV or any other disease.
This November Colin and Stephanie Mathers are running the New York City Marathon in support of the Rory Staunton Foundation. You can donate to their fundraising campaign here.