On November 19, the Irish Consulate in New York opened its doors to honor the work of the Rory Staunton Foundation for Sepsis Prevention and launch the foundation’s Forget-Me-Not Appeal.

The event was hosted by Irish Consul General Barbara Jones and attended by scores of guests including New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd, boxer John Duddy, New York State Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan and President Emeritus of Georgetown University, Father Leo O’Donovan.

The Rory Staunton Foundation was established in 2012 by Ciaran and Orlaith Staunton, following the sudden death of their 12 year-old son, Rory, from sepsis.

Sepsis, a severe and life-threatening reaction to infection, kills more than 250,000 Americans each year, more than breast cancer, prostate cancer, and AIDS combined. Globally, it is the leading killer of infants and children. Despite this, 60 percent of Americans have never heard the word sepsis.

The Rory Staunton Foundation Forget-Me-Not Appeal allows supporters to contribute to the foundation’s work by purchasing forget-me-not cards on their website to be sent, either electronically or by mail, to a friend or relative. Forget-me-not cards can also be purchased in remembrance of a loved-one lost.

“The holidays are tough for us,” said Ciaran Staunton. “We wanted to build a campaign that would encourage people to reach out to their loved ones over the holidays in a meaningful way, while also contributing to saving lives through our sepsis awareness programs.”

The proceeds from the Forget-Me-Not Appeal will support a sepsis education program for middle and high schools and sepsis awareness programs for afterschool and youth groups across the country.

Read more: My son Rory lies in a lonely grave in Ireland

According to Orlaith Staunton, “People need to understand sepsis as a medical emergency, to know the signs, and to be able to ask their doctors to check for it. Sepsis is treatable when caught early, but time is the crucial factor.”

For more information about the Rory Staunton Foundation and the Forget-Me-Not Holiday Appeal, visit www.RoryStauntonFoundationforSepsis.org or call 212-244-6294.

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Irish government attacks sepsis with new national effort