Ciaran and Orlaith Staunton, the campaigning Irish couple from Sunnyside, NY who lost their son Rory, 12, to undiagnosed sepsis in 2012, have won a battle to have the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the national public health institute, create a dedicated website to alert health providers and the public to the dangers of the life threatening illness.
“After our son Rory died we went onto the CDC website, the foremost medical agency in America, to find out more about sepsis,” Ciaran Staunton, a native of Co. Mayo, told the Irish Voice. “They had nothing anywhere on the site. After campaigning at state level we went right to the top, to Senator Chuck Schumer’s office.”
Schumer got the Stauntons a meeting in Atlanta with Dr. Thomas Frieden, the director of the CDC. “When we walked into the office they had all the various pamphlets on all the health campaigns including obesity, alcohol, you name it. But they had nothing on sepsis, which is killing more Americans than AIDS,” Staunton recalled.
After a fairly heated discussion the Stauntons asked how are health providers and the public going to be aware of the dangers of sepsis if the CDC didn’t do anything to address it.
“The easiest thing to do straight away was put up a website, we suggested. Let people know what sepsis is,” Staunton said.
Following intense lobbying by the Stauntons the CDC agreed to the suggestion and a new sepsis awareness website was launched last week.
It’s a bittersweet victory for the Irish couple, who have campaigned diligently for sepsis awareness since the shock loss of their own son.
“The first thing you have to do to cure sepsis is to look for it,” explains Staunton. “Suspect sepsis and you’ll save lives. So last week’s announcement was a big one. Sepsis is easy to identify if you’re looking for it. Once you’re looking for it you’ll save lives.”
Thanks to the Stauntons’ passionate campaigning, every hospital in New York State is now mandated by law to look for sepsis.
“That’s called Rory’s Regulation,” explains Staunton. “It should be a national regulation. We are having ongoing conversations with the CDC and we hope they’ll also conduct national campaigns to raise awareness.”