Last week Orlaith and Ciaran Staunton, the Irish-born New York-based parents of 12-year-old Rory Staunton who died from sepsis after hospital malpractice met the leaders of the Center for Disease Control.
Orlaith, from Drogheda, County Louth, and Ciaran from Westport, County Mayo, give their account of their son’s tragic death from sepsis in April 2012 from a minor scrape received on a basketball court.
The CDC promised at last to look at fully funding a major push to publicize sepsis —which can usually be cured if antibiotics are used in time Rory’s Regulations were introduced into New York hospitals and last week a version of the regulations were voted into law in Illinois.
Here are several letters from families who believe their children were saved because of knowing about Rory’s case which was front page in the New York Times.
The Rory Staunton Foundation states: “The following stories have been shared with us from families who have been helped by knowing Rory’s story. “
Rory’s story was a lifesaver for my son
I wrote to you a couple of weeks ago to thank you. Because of Rory's story and because I work in a hospital that follows Sepsis protocol I knew that my son was becoming septic. Because of you I was able to tell the ER triage nurse to call a sepsis alert for my son. Because of you I was able to see that time was of the essence. Because of you I knew I had to advocate and make my voice heard. I spoke of Rory to the Doctors and Nurses at NYU and how wonderful was it to hear that they knew of his story and that he is a main reason of why this Sepsis protocol is in place. I watched my child shake uncontrollably for 6 hours as they pushed fluids by the liters into him and while I watched the cardiac monitor as his heart rate went faster and faster. I was never so scared and believe me we have been a lot with my son but this was by far extremely frightening. I not only prayed to God, I also I prayed to Rory. I share your story whenever I can. I will continue to help bring awareness. Sepsis does not have to take a life, especially a young one. God bless you for all that you do. I am sure that Rory is very proud of you.
Rory Has Already Made A Difference
It always breaks my heart to read stories about Rory Staunton. He was such a handsome, young man and I bet, Irish as he was, full of life. What happened to Rory should not happen to any child, and, as a mother of five, I thank you all for Rory’s Regulations. I remember hearing about Rory right after he passed away. I couldn’t believe what happened, all from a seemingly small cut, which children receive everyday! I remember growing up in the Bronx, and my mother torturing me with Mercurochrome, each time I got cut. My children got cuts and abrasions a lot, I always band-aided them and went on with the day.
Last year, my youngest child, age 11, went away to sleep away camp in North Carolina. The first time ever any of my children went to sleep away camp. My husband and I went to Colorado to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary. Two days before we were supposed to pick her up in North Carolina, we received a call from the camp saying she wasn’t feeling well and had been brought into town to see the doctor. A few hours later, we received a call that she was being taken to the hospital. I remember we were already at Denver Airport at the ticket counter and I was crying hysterically that we had to get the next flight to North Carolina. Rory was on my mind the whole time. He was the reason we went straight to the airport after the first call. How could this be happening? Rory, watch over her please!!My daughter was diagnosed with a septic blood infection. They started her on IV. I was beside her, questioning everyone and everything, all because of Rory’s story. Had I not known about Rory, I assure you I probably would have just stood there. I probably would have still been in Colorado and only getting a flight out at that point, blissfully ignorant about what could actually happen, and how serious things could become.
My daughter spent six days in hospital and another six day at a medical center. She is fine now, except for some residual stomach issues. But she is here with us, and I thank Rory and his family for that every day. I think of him often and I say a prayer, not just for him – as he certainly is an angel – but for his heartbroken family. I want you to know that you have already made a difference, and that Rory’s Regulations will save so many other children.Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.
Florida Mother Says Rory’s Case Saved Her Son’s Life
Cara Byington wrote to New York Times writer Jim Dwyer who revealed the story of how NYU hospital in New York misdiagnosed 12 year-old Rory, the son of Irish immigrants, and he died as a result. The hospital has now admitted their emergency procedures need to be improved dramatically.
Rory Staunton’s parents Ciaran and Orlaith described their happiness that the message on sepsis is having an impact.
“We are happy for this family and we know telling Rory’s story will help many other parents recognize this deadly killer,” they said. “Rory would be delighted that he has helped possibly save a life.”
Ms Boyington wrote to Dwyer, “I read your heartbreaking story about Rory Staunton online Saturday night, and had no idea how close to home it would hit so quickly. I can’t even think about what the Stauntons must be going through. And I have no idea if knowing that their son’s story helped my child would be a comfort or not, and I would never want to cause them any more pain.You mentioned you knew the family so — if you think it would be helpful to them to know how much they helped us, please feel free to share our story with them. If not, I wanted you to know how important your story was, not only for the greater good, but for individual lives as well.”
“On Friday, my 12-year-old son was diagnosed and treated for a simple swimmer’s ear infection. He woke up around 2 am Sunday morning with even more severe ear pain and since he did not seem to be getting better, I took him to the ER. They prescribed oral antibiotics to go with the antibiotic ear drops his pediatrician had given him on Friday, but they didn’t do any blood work. On Monday, his ear started swelling away from his head. We went back to his pediatrician, who did not seem to take it seriously. I asked about mastoiditis and cellulitis and was told that, ‘It’s rare. Continue with the antibiotics and bring him back tomorrow if he’s not better. Sometimes this takes a while to get under control. I took him back home and could not get the Rory Staunton story out of my mind. His ear continued to swell and became hot to the touch. I rushed him back to the ER at our children’s hospital here (Wolfson — Jacksonville, Florida), where I was prepared to demand blood work. But the attending nurse and doctor took one look at him, said “possible mastoiditis” and quickly had him on IV antibiotics and scheduled for a CT scan to make sure the infection had not spread to his bones or his brain.”
“We were very fortunate. It was still isolated to the skin in and around his ear and had not yet spread beyond that. The ER doctor told me, though, that we were probably down to hours before he was in serious trouble. He spent about 24 hours in the hospital under observation and on IV antibiotics. He’s still on pretty stiff doses of oral antibiotics, but watching him today bouncing around like any almost-13-year old, you wouldn’t know he was sick enough to be hospitalized two days ago. I don’t know what would have happened if I had let it go for another day as the pediatrician suggested. Probably nothing good. But I do know that if I hadn’t read Rory’s story, I would not have been so quick to act decisively, so conscious of the possibility of septic shock, and so ready to take him to as many hospitals as necessary until someone took me seriously.”
Rory’s story saved my child’s life
My son started getting ill on Wednesday last week. He had a low grade fever and stated his legs and arms were sore. His dad, step-dad and stepmom, who is a nurse all decided we would monitor everything and thought maybe he was getting a cold/flu or it was from football. The next day, Thursday he stayed home from school. I kept him on Motrin and he seemed to do well. By the end of the day, he was up playing around. Thursday night, he was still warm and still sore. He fell asleep and I was awoken around 1:00am with the sounds of him moaning in pain. I got up and he was in so much pain from his legs.
I gave him Motrin and it did nothing. I researched muscle pain and fever online and all it pulled up was “Flu symptoms”. The next morning, he stayed home and was getting worse. He didn’t want to get off the couch or anything. To make a long story short, I ended up taking him to the hospital where they looked him over and thought he had the flu. I refused to leave with that diagnosis. My gut was telling me something was wrong with my child. We noticed he had a big, red, hot to the touch mark from his elbow going up to his bicep. A week prior he was catching a pass in football and opened his elbow. Well, it had gotten infected. That minute, I looked at his dad and told him about Rory’s story! I became the “crazy mom”! We were not leaving that hospital until that was treated.
One doctor came in and, as we were talking, Rory again came up. She knew of his story too and said my son had the same thing, just not as progressed. He was transported to another hospital with a pediatric unit, monitored, and given very strong antibiotics. He is home now and feels great!
I am SO sad and SO sorry to read Rory’s story. I just read another article about him written by Jim Dwyer and at the end of that article it stated: “Above all,” Ms. Staunton said, “we know that Rory would want no other child to go through what he went through.” Rory’s story saved my child’s life!! I prayed to God, as well as Rory, on Saturday and thanked him, for without him, I wouldn’t have been aware that a child could die from a cut on the arm! I am so sorry for your loss!! Thank you for putting Rory’s story out there. He saved my little boy and will probably save a lot more. Thank you again!!
My Ten Year Old Son Had The Same Symptoms
“First of all, I would like to express my heartfelt condolences in regards to your loss. I am so terribly sorry that this tragedy occurred. It is an absolute injustice.
On another note, I want to thank you for sharing your story. My ten year old son began complaining of significant leg pain last night. By midnight, he was vomiting, shaking from chills, his leg was hot to the touch and he was running a temperature. He was just sobbing from the pain.
As I was looking online for reasons as to what could be causing this condition, I came across the story of Rory. I remember reading about it a few months ago, but found this time that his symptoms sounded eerily like my son’s.
I wanted to take him right to the ER, but by that point, he was resting after being given some Bengay and Advil. The next morning, I made an appointment with his pediatrician and I gave her all of the details. Her immediate diagnosis was influenza, and she told me that the leg pain was as a result of body aches and soon diarrhea would begin to start as the virus continues. She was not able to do a full screen, as he was not excreting any mucus.
I countered her diagnosis and reminded her of my son’s history. He has had two previous staph infections (one in his eye -which she had diagnosed as pinkeye and another in his leg). The eye infection had caused a week long hospital stay when he was six.
She brushed me off, stating that he looked physically well and again, he had the flu. I tried one more time to point out that body aches are typically all over with the flu, but his pain was localized in his leg.
Again, I was dismissed. By this point, I had already decided to contact another physician for a second opinion. We went to that second appointment and I expressed my concern for my son and my feelings about the initial diagnosis. This provider immediately went to a scab that my son had on his knee. He had hurt it in PE a few days before. He said that there was pus developing below the surface of that wound. Then as he felt his leg, the most tender area for him in terms of pain, felt much firmer than it should.
The doctor then stated that it was likely he was in the beginnings of an infection (most likely staph), and given his past history, needed a rigorous treatment with strong antibiotics. So, we were given a prescription and we just started on it.
Hopefully, he will be on the mend soon.
I just want to thank you for sharing the story of your son. Had it not been fresh in my mind, I might have taken the word of our “trusted” physician, who has seen our son as a patient since he was a baby. I know that this is bittersweet, as it does not bring back your sweet boy, but please know that his story has an impact. It stirred me into action, advocating for my son’s proper medical treatment.
A Mom shared the following with us on Facebook:
Just a little note to thank you for making Rory’s story public. My 8 yr old fell on his knee Saturday night and said he felt like he had a rug burn. Being one of 5 children, I listened but honestly didn’t take a close look at it until that night, before bed, when he complained about it again. By that time, it looked like a bump with a pimple. I put a topical antibiotic cream on it and set my alarm to check on him in the middle of the night. He was just complaining about pain in the area but no fever. By the morning, it had doubled in size and had a streak or line coming from it. Rory’s story popped up in my head…my son didn’t want to go to the doctor because he knew they would tell him he couldn’t play in his semi-championship basketball game that night- I chose to share Rory’s story with him and told him what happened to him and how serious this could become if we didn’t take care of it immediately. He understood and agreed to go to the doctor. He was put on oral antibiotics, and had his abscess drained. On the ride home he asked questions about Rory, how old he was, where he lived, was he scared, etc. My heart went out to Rory’s mom at that moment thinking I wish she had the information that I have, I wish she didn’t have to lose her son to something that could’ve been taken care of, and I mentally thanked her for making her story public, for making me aware of what could happen. I believe Rory is out there looking out for other children and I thank God for letting the Rory’s story reach me.”
To Reach the Rory Staunton Foundation go to https://rorystauntonfoundationforsepsis.org/