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Grieving mother urges others to learn to spot signs of deadly sepsis

A GRIEVING mother who lost her teenage daughter to sepsis is urging people to learn to recognise the signs of the deadly infection.

Chloe Christopher, 17, of Cwmaman, died on New Year’s Eve in 2014 after developing the life-threatening illness.

It was thought the Aberdare Community School student was suffering a chest infection at the time.

In a new film produced by the Welsh Ambulance Service, Chloe’s mother Michelle has spoken movingly about her death.

She recalls: “It was Christmas week and Chloe seemed to have what we thought was a cold or maybe the start of a chest infection.

“She was a little lethargic with some aches and pains, but it seemed nothing to worry about.

“She spent one evening with one of her closest friends laughing and joking and looking forward to New Year’s Eve celebrations, as they were going to a fancy dress party.

“They were both together as Chloe rapidly deteriorated. It was so sudden; one minute laughing and joking, the next she said she felt unwell and a bit scared.

“She then collapsed in front of us. Hearing the words ‘Mam, I’m frightened, I don’t feel very well’ will stay with me forever.

“I phoned for the emergency services immediately and even though we didn’t know what was happening, we knew it was serious.

“Chloe suffered a cardiac arrest in front of us, and having to try and perform CPR on your own daughter was indescribable.

“The emergency staff were amazing, and tried their utmost to save Chloe but to no avail.”

Sepsis occurs when the body's response to an infection injures its own tissues and organs, and it can lead to shock, multiple organ failure and death, especially if not recognised early.

Michelle said: “The first time we heard of sepsis was at Chloe’s inquest five months later.

“We heard that Chloe had signs of a urine infection which turned to sepsis, led to multi-organ failure and then cardiac arrest.

“Since Chloe’s passing, it’s been my passion to raise awareness and to help educate the public on the signs of sepsis.

“It is estimated that sepsis kills around 44,000 people in the UK a year; it’s bigger than breast, bowel and prostate cancer put together.

“If caught early, sepsis can be treatable, so the key message is education, knowledge and awareness and to just ask ‘could this be sepsis?’

“By doing this, it helps keep our beautiful Chloe’s memory alive, hoping that maybe we can save a family going through what we have.”

The Welsh Ambulance Service uses the National Early Warning Score (NEWS) tool to identify whether a patient is suffering from sepsis.

NEWS looks at seven factors, including blood pressure, pulse rate, respiratory rate, oxygen saturation, level of consciousness, temperature and whether the patient is receiving supplemental oxygen.

Under its new Clinical Response Model, made permanent in February 2017, the Welsh Ambulance Service is measured against the number of suspected sepsis patients who have had a documented NEWS score.

Between July and September 2017, this was 102 out of 104 (98.1 per cent) patients across Wales.

The Welsh Ambulance Service is calling on people to seek help immediately if they suspect the signs of sepsis.

Andy Swinburn, the Trust’s Assistant Director of Paramedicine, said: “Sepsis is a serious condition that can initially look like flu, gastroenteritis or a chest infection.

“If you develop slurred speech or confusion, extreme shivering or muscle pain, severe breathlessness, mottled skin or you have trouble passing urine, it could be sepsis and you must seek medical help immediately – it could mean the difference between life and death.”

Click here to watch Chloe’s story on the Trust’s YouTube channel.

For more information about sepsis, visit the UK Sepsis Trust website.


Editor’s Notes
For more information, please call Communications Specialist Lois Hough on 01745 532537 or email

8 Jan 2018 15:24

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