Near death experience inspires sister

Heather McCabe, right, with mum Christine, are raising awareness of the deadly condition sepsis which nearly killed her sister. Picture: Michael Gillen
Heather McCabe, right, with mum Christine, are raising awareness of the deadly condition sepsis which nearly killed her sister. Picture: Michael Gillen

A near death experience has inspired a health professional to raise awareness of blood poisoning symptoms that could prove fatal.

Mum-of-two Heather McCabe (37), of the Complementary Healthcare Clinic in Grahams Road, wants to help educate people on the dangers of sepsis – a life-threatening condition that can be triggered by seemingly innocuous infections or injuries.

It causes the body’s immune system to go into overdrive when fighting an infection that can lead to the reduction of blood supply to vital organs such as the brain, heart and kidneys and cause multiple organ failure.

This almost happened to Heather’s sister Jakky Bell (47) who felt unwell following root canal treatment. The condition wasn’t recognised and her body was shutting down before she was rushed to hospital where the sepsis was successfully treated.

It is especially dangerous at this time of year as people can put symptoms such as a high temperature; feeling dizzy and nausea down to a flu.

Heather, from Stenhousemuir, said: “Sepsis can happen from almost anything and it can happen really quickly. Jakky was finding it hard to swallow and felt dreadful but the doctor said it was something viral. I just want to raise awareness so people are aware of the symptoms.”

Heather is hosting a pamper night for the Sepsis Trust in the Plough Hotel, Stenhousemuir on December 8 from 6.30pm.

Check Complementary Healthcare Clinic Falkirk on Facebook for more details.

Flu-like symptoms may be common in winter and often brushed aside but global sepsis expert and chief executive of the UK Sepsis Trust, Dr Ron Daniels BEM, is warning people to watch out for the signs.

He said: “Sepsis has a devastating human cost. Every day in the UK, individuals and families have their lives torn apart by the condition, but better awareness could save thousands of lives each year.

“It’s the extraordinary efforts of supporters like Heather McCabe that allow us to continue the fight against sepsis. We’re nothing without our volunteers, and we’d like to say a huge thank you from everyone at the UK Sepsis Trust. Together we can change the way sepsis is handled in the UK.”

He added: “Sepsis, or blood poisoning, is the reaction to an infection in which the body attacks its own organs and tissues. If not spotted and treated quickly, it can rapidly cause organ failure and death.

“In its early stages, sepsis can look like a bad case of flu. Symptoms might initially include a very sore throat, achey muscles and fatigue. As the condition develops, it can cause breathlessness, a racing heart, mottled skin and cold hands and feet.

“Severe symptoms arise when the blood pressure drops very low, leading to dizziness, disorientation, slurred speech, mottled skin and nausea. Sufferers might also find they have not urinated in 24 hours.

“Anyone with flu-like symptoms and one or more of the key signs of sepsis must present to healthcare immediately, either by calling an ambulance or going to an emergency department. With every hour that passes before the right antibiotics are administered, risk of death increases.”