Iris, a mother of two recently shared on Facebook how she almost lost her son to Sepsis and how quickly his health deteriorated over the period of six days due to a sore leg.
She hopes to spread awareness because people should know about this condition and its symptoms before it’s too late.
In her caption, she writes,
“Sepsis. Never heard of it prior to this, never thought it would happen to us until it did. Today is World Sepsis Day and in recognition of that, we are sharing our story of Jarrod’s 6 month long hospital journey with Sepsis. We hope that parents become aware of the symptoms and also press to escalate if their concerns have not been addressed (by the doctor). Please feel free to share as awareness can save a life.”
Not just a fever and rash
On 28 March 2019, Iris’ four-year-old son, Jarrod, seemed fine until his kindergarten called to say that he had a fever. After bringing him back, the fever went away but his parents kept him home, just in case.
The fever came back two days later with a rash that went white when it was pressed. He was brought to a home doctor who said that it was a viral fever and administered Panadol and Neurofen to him.
On 31 March, his fever and rash calmed down a little and he was able to do things around the house, but the next day, Jarrod complained about pain in his leg.
Another doctor also said it was just a viral fever
His mother then brought him to another doctor who also said that he had a viral fever and gave Jarrod Panadol and Neurofen. He said the leg pain could be due to inflammation caused by the viral fever.
On 2 April, things got really bad. Jarrod still had fever and a rash, but this time, he couldn’t walk as his right leg was in too much pain. It became so unbearable that he asked his father to take him to the hospital at 5pm.
Health deteriorated very quickly
However, no urgent care was given to Jarrod. He was only taken to an isolation room because of his rash, and was given Panadol and antihistamines while waiting for more than five hours to be attended to. By 10.30pm, Jarrod’s condition worsened – he started vomiting and having diarrhoea.
“My husband paged the medical staff to help again, but it was 45 minutes later before a nurse came in,” Iris wrote.
“She took blood pressure and checked his vitals and rushed out and before we knew it the room was filled with doctors, nurses and medical staff. They knew he had sepsis but did not know what caused it.
“Sepsis occurs when your body’s immune system starts to send infection-fighting chemicals throughout your body rather than just to the infection itself. These chemicals cause inflammation and start to attack the healthy tissues and organs. Your body is no longer fighting the infection, it’s fighting itself.”
An hour later, Jarrod began having multiple organ failure and needed to be hooked to a dialysis machine as his kidney had started to fail. At 4am, Jarrod’s heart also began to fail and required open heart surgery in order to connect him to an ECMO machine – which essentially takes over the function of the heart.
“We were fortunate he was put on just in time as his heart had stopped right after the surgery. Doctors knew he was critically ill but struggled to determine what had caused his condition.” Iris wrote.
By 7am on 3 April, Jarrod’s condition hadn’t improved even though he was put on all kinds of life support. He was given 30 different medications while doctors started to predict that the root cause was either Kawasaki Disease or Group A Strep. It was only four days later that they confirmed Jarrod had Group A Strep – popularly known as flesh-eating bacteria.
However, despite being given the right antibiotics and having his toxic blood filtered by the ECMO machine, Jarrod began developing blue-purple patches on his skin and blisters all over his body due to septic shock. His right leg even swelled three times its size.
“Doctors were concerned that this (his leg) was the source of the infection, so they decided to open it up while he was still on life support,” Iris wrote.
“For us this was one of the toughest procedures. If the leg was the cause of the infection then it needed to be addressed as a priority. The risk was that Jarrod was too critically ill to survive any major form of surgery compounded by the risk that he was on blood thinners.”
Two hours later, they received news that the surgery went well. Doctors found that the Group A Strep bacteria had made its way into Jarrod’s bloodstream and bones, and had cut off blood supply to his leg which resulted in muscle and tissue damage.
Road to recovery
Jarrod spent the next 24 days in the ICU where eight of the days were spent in an induced coma and life support. His skin had started to peel off and his hair started to fall; he even had to go for more surgeries as the wound on his leg kept opening up.
Fortunately, Jarrod was able to recover from this life threatening disease. He spent three months in the hospital and three months under the care of the hospital at home. Altogether, he underwent about 20 operations.
“Our little warrior was no longer scared of needles or going into theatre, he just dislikes the fasting prior,” Iris said.
“He had some dead muscle and tissue removed from his leg and had to learn to walk again. He was so weak in the beginning he couldn’t even hold his neck up in bed and was floppy on the wheelchair.”
“As a parent, it really hurts to see how much pain he was in and you could do nothing about it except tell him to ‘never give up’.”
Now, Jarrod is almost back to 100% normal after going through physiotherapy and acupuncture. Even though one his legs is smaller than the other due to the removed muscle, he still has his legs and is learning to regain strength to walk again.
Iris ends her post by saying that she is still shocked by how quickly things escalated as Jarrod was happy and healthy with no existing medical conditions.
She then advises other parents that if their child appears sicker than normal, it’s best that they bring them to the emergency department and INSIST on a second opinion if you as the parent is not satisfied with the doctor’s answer.
This is important as the child’s health could deteriorate really quickly if it were to be sepsis.
Thank God Jarrod survived such a life-threatening disease. It really is a miracle.
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