Princess Alexandra Hospital biomedical scientist who nearly died from sepsis designs innovative hospital kit to save lives
"I nearly lost my life with my first episode of sepsis since it took me too long before seeking help." Eva Nkansah describes the shock of her sepsis diagnosis, shortly after she had had her first baby. Eva had a second episode, but by then she knew the symptoms and didn't delay. She went straight to her GP and was treated immediately with antibiotics.
Now she is campaigning to raise awareness of the dangers of sepsis and is so committed to the fight that she has not only put her experience into words, but has actually come up with a special kit for Princess Alexandra Hospital Trust, where she now works.
Eva was keen to support the hospital's campaign to improve the response for patients with sepsis. With the help of Eva, the sepsis project team have seen major improvements in the time it takes for a sepsis patient to receive the appropriate treatment. Latest figures for the month of March were the lowest the Trust had seen in many years.
Although major inroads have been made, the identification and recognition of sepsis is the most challenging. This is why Eva is eager that the hospital's awareness messages on World Sepsis Day next Thursday reach the widest possible audience.
Princess Alexandra Hospital Trust (PAHT) will be supporting World Sepsis Day on Thursday 13 September by offering information and advice to patients and visitors. Specialist healthcare staff will be on hand to speak to the public from 9am at the visitor centre and Alexandra restaurant at the hospital in Hamstel Road, Harlow, CM20 1QX.
Eva has shared her story to show just how important knowing the signs is for everyone. Symptoms can often be mistaken for flu, but there are signs to look out for. Please pick up a leaflet to take home on Thursday.
Eva said: "As a biomedical scientist I have used my sepsis story to contribute positively to the care we give to our sepsis patients at PAHT. I have shared my story with colleagues to raise awareness and have worked closely with the sepsis and acute kidney injury teams to introduce a new coloured blood culture pack which is now used across the whole trust. So I am pleased my experience can have a positive effect. "
I had sepsis twice within five years following two caesarean sections.
I had my son through caesarean section in a hospital in London where I lived and was discharged home after three days. I was well when I was discharged. However, after a few days at my home I started feeling very tired, out of breath, feeling hot and cold with shivering and with general body weakness. I didn't really take these symptoms seriously and attributed it to part of being a new mum, and besides, taking care of my new born was my priority.
This went on for days until one night I nearly dropped my baby whilst breast feeding due to extreme shivering. I panicked and the next morning I decided to seek help.
I dragged myself to my GP and was found to have severe sepsis. I was breathless and my blood pressure was very low. My GP decided to call an ambulance for me. I refused and insisted on going home to get my son before attending A&E. My GP gave me a letter to take to A&E with my son urgently. Upon arrival at A&E I presented my letter and straightaway I was admitted. I had more than five health professionals attending to me.
That was when I released how sick I was! Upon examination part of my caesarean wound was found to be opened and infected with collection of fluid. The fluid was drained and blood samples were taken. Blood cultures are used to detect the presence of bacteria in the blood, to identify the type present, and to guide treatment. Testing is used to identify a blood infection (septicaemia) that can lead to sepsis.
I spent two weeks in hospital on IV antibiotics, received blood transfusions and had kidney and heart complications.
I had sepsis again after a second caesarean session and wasted no time in seeking help. My prompt decision meant I received treatment without being admitted as an inpatient.
Facts about sepsis
• Sepsis (also known as blood poisoning) is a life threatening condition which kills 44,000 people in the UK annually.
• Early recognition and treatment is key to reducing mortality. With early diagnosis, it can be treated with antibiotics
• Symptoms of sepsis will appear differently between adults and children.
How to spot sepsis in adults
Seek medical help urgently if you (or another adult) develop any of these signs:
• Slurred speech or confusion
• Extreme shivering or muscle pain
• Passing no urine (in a day)
• Severe breathlessness
• It feels like you're going to die
• Skin mottled or discoloured
How to spot sepsis in children
If your child is unwell with either a fever or very low temperature (or has had a fever in the last 24 hours), call 999 and just ask: could it be sepsis?
A child may have sepsis if he or she:
• Is breathing very fast
• Has a 'fit' or convulsion
• Looks mottled, bluish, or pale
• Has a rash that does not fade when you press it
• Is very lethargic or difficult to wake
• Feels abnormally cold to touch
A child under 5 may have sepsis if he or she:
1. Is not feeding
2. Is vomiting repeatedly