Sepsis symptoms: Mum raises awareness after daughter, 13-year-old Lauren, died after suffering from 'flu'

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A mother is raising awareness after her 13-year-old daughter, Sarah Menzies, tragically died of sepsis

A mother has shared her moving and honest account of losing her daughter Lauren Menzies to sepsis in December 2019 at the age of 13. Sarah Menzies hopes that by doing so it will raise awareness of the lesser-known symptoms of sepsis.

She said: “The idea that it would never, could never, happen to you. Followed by the sudden shocking realisation that it was happening, that it was horribly, painfully real.”

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Her daughter had taken December 6, 2019 off school after catching the flu. When mum Sarah returned home from work it appeared her 13-year-old daughter was suffering from a winter bug. But within hours Lauren, from Chorley, had deteriorated and was fighting for her life in hospital. Six days later, she tragically died.

Mum Sarah described how Lauren “had a busy start to her last week at home” with a “Christmas drama production for school” and  “ballet rehearsals”. She said: “When she announced on Wednesday morning that she wasn’t feeling very well I put it down to this busy schedule and the need to have a duvet day.  It was the time of year when ‘there’s a lot going round’  so I wasn’t overly concerned.”

A couple of days later Sarah “heard Lauren being sick in the bathroom” and she began saying odd things but the family had “put it down to sleepiness and illness.” Sarah said: “I was concerned about the confusion but I didn’t realise it could be a symptom of sepsis. I remember her breathing was fast and shallow and she was giving little grunts – another sign of sepsis that I was unaware of.”

Sarah awoke her daughter from a nap where she then “seemed confused” which made her "concerned enough to ring the doctors to see if they could see her”. Sarah then took Lauren to the hospital where her daughter “chatted to the triage nurse and said she knew she was in hospital, but when the nurse asked her for her date of birth Lauren got the month wrong - it was then that sepsis was mentioned for the first time.”

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Sarah said: “The doctor that then came to examine Lauren was not convinced – he instead mentioned gastroenteritis.  Buoyed by the nurse’s conviction though, I stood my ground, explaining the confusion I had seen. Within four hours of the nurse’s initial identification of sepsis we were preparing to go to Alder Hey hospital with a fully intubated daughter, whose heart had already stopped once due to the level of infection she was fighting.”

Sarah hopes her story will help highlight the warning signs of sepsis and is fundraising for more research into better treatments for sepsis. She said: “There are several signs of sepsis, but it is worth remembering that you may only see one or two of these signs. As I discovered in Lauren’s case, your child/partner/loved one may not actually seem that sick.  

“Look out for slurred speech or confusion, mottled skin, a rash that doesn’t fade when pressed,  fast breathing or breathlessness, lethargy, vomiting, not passing urine and feeling cold. Extremely high or low temperatures can also be a sign.”

She added: “It seemed that Lauren’s sepsis had been caught in time. She was at Alder Hey receiving treatment and showing signs of improvement but then it all became too much for her body to continue fighting and there was no more help that could be given.”

If you would like to donate to Sarah's fundraising campaign, visit their JustGiving page.

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