A British dad who lost his 3-year-old daughter several years ago is on a mission to get parents to ask one simple question: Could my child have sepsis?
Sepsis is a condition that is sometimes known as blood poisoning, and occurs when the body releases chemicals into the blood to fight an infection that inflames healthy parts of the body.
In the case of Peter Howarth from Manchester, U.K., his “robust” toddler daughter Pippa appeared to have a cold—she had a high temperature and was a bit lethargic.
“It was genuinely no more sinister than that,” Howarth told HuffPost UK.
A few days later at around 7 p.m on April 9, 2014, they took her via ambulance to the hospital after she had trouble breathing. There she was diagnosed with pneumonia and given antibiotics.
Howarth stayed with her at the hospital while his wife went home to care for their newborn son.
At 10 p.m., she was “still demanding pink drinks and a story,” Howarth recalled, and while she was hooked up to drips, seemed to be doing well.
“She was bossing me around, she was perky,” he told HuffPost.
By 3 a.m., she was still talking, but not coherently anymore. Howarth called a nurse.
Staff came to check on her then left. Howarth sat with her for another half hour, holding her hand. Then she stopped breathing.
“That was it,” Howarth told HuffPost. “I was hustled out, the crash teams came in.”
“She died before my wife got there.”
They arrived at the hospital at 7 p.m. and Pippa died at 4 a.m. the next morning.
“We didn’t get a chance to fight, she was gone before we could try,” Howarth told HuffPost. “It was a flick of a switch and she was gone.”
Now Howarth is trying to raise awareness of the condition, which develops in over 75,000 children in the United States annually, according to Sepsis Alliance.
Celebrities such as actress Patty Duke, boxer Muhammad Ali, and Muppeteer Jim Henson all have died from the condition, which has helped to raise its profile.
While Sepsis can affect a person at any age, children and the elderly are most susceptible to it.
Symptoms in children can include:
-Little or no urine output
-Skin that is cold to the touch
-Extreme pain or discomfort
-Sleepiness or lethargy
Sepsis is treatable with antibiotics, but only if it is caught in time.
“It may not have changed the outcome with us,” Howarth told HuffPost. “We might have been unlucky, but maybe—if someone had asked—just maybe, we’d still have her.”