Dave and Nichol Boys-Hope saw no major cause for alarm when their one-year-old ‘little monkey’ Layton caught chicken pox.
Layton’s four older siblings had each had the virus at a similarly young age, and he appeared to be over the worst. But after having his usual afternoon nap, it was clear when he awoke that something more serious was wrong.
Less than 12 hours later, Dave and Nichol were coming to terms with the loss of their youngest child – their world having ‘fallen apart’.
The couple have shared their story in a bid to raise awareness around the symptoms and signs of the killer infection, and are urging people to donate in Layton’s memory to raise funds for The UK Sepsis Trust.
They hope it will help others better understand the dangers of the infection, how to spot it, and realise how quickly people need to act when sepsis strikes.
“Our little boy had chicken pox – like thousands of other children and like his four older siblings had had before. From something so simple as chicken pox to then lead to this – it’s something we never imagined could ever happen,” Dave said.
“We didn’t know it could develop into something so serious, and even though we acted as quickly as we could when he had a high temperature and became unwell, he was taken from us so quick.
“We are trying to move on as best as we can and raise awareness of sepsis to let people know what to look out for. We didn’t have a clue about sepsis, or what the symptoms were.
Sepsis accounts for at least six million deaths worldwide annually. In the UK alone, 44,000 people lose their lives to sepsis every year – more than breast, bowel and prostate cancer combined.
With early diagnosis it is easily treatable, and The UK Sepsis Trust, a charity established in 2012, exists to fight the life-threatening condition and stop preventable deaths..
The charity aims to save 12,500 lives every year and says it is ‘committed to changing the way the NHS deals with Sepsis, increasing public awareness and supporting those affected by Sepsis’
Sepsis is caused by the body’s response to an infection which enters the body and the immune system overreacts, attacking major organs. Without quick treatment, it can lead to multiple organ failure and death.
“Every other day, we hear of someone else being affected by sepsis,” said Dave.
“So many people don’t know or don’t realise how quickly this can happen. It is so important to raise awareness. It’s heart-breaking.”
“We have built quite a following on social media with people who have been affected, and friends and family have been a great support to us. We want people to know this can happen and know the signs and symptoms.
Early symptoms in babies under three months can be a temperature under 36C or above 38C, or any high temperature in a child who cannot be encouraged to show interest in anything.
Laboured breathing, grunting noises with each breath, a dry nappy for more than 12 hours, sunken eyes and floppiness could also occur.
In adults and older children, slurred speech or confusion, extreme shivering or muscle pain, passing no urine in a day, severe breathlessness and discoloured skin are symptoms.
Hudgell Solicitors raising awareness of the ‘Need For Speed’ on sepsis diagnosis and treatment
Dave and Nichol were supported by Hudgell Solicitors in legal representation relating to the medical care provided to Layton when he was rushed to Sunderland Royal Hospital, where it was admitted he could have been saved had antibiotics been given earlier.
Hudgell Solicitors is raising awareness of the ‘need for speed’ in diagnosing and treating sepsis in our The Hour of Need campaign.
According to The UK Sepsis Trust, if diagnosed and treated in the first hour a patient has more than an 80% survival rate. After six hours this plummets to a 30% survival rate
Specialist medical negligence solicitor Tasmin White, who represented the family, said: “Despite there being many tragic cases similar to Layton’s, sepsis is still routinely missed because doctors and nurses attribute symptoms to other causes and current tests take many hours to come back.
“With early diagnosis sepsis is treatable, with the main treatment being antibiotics, which the NHS says should ideally start within an hour of diagnosis to reduce the risk of serious complications or death. That shows the importance of people being aware of symptoms.
“We feel there needs to be greater awareness across the general public, but from the cases we see there are too many occasions where too much testing is done first. If the symptoms have any link to possible sepsis we’d like to see an approach where broad-spectrum antibiotics are given immediately.
“Once test results have come back, a more focused antibiotic can be used.”