The New Year period is generally a time of celebration but among the festivities there can also be immense sorrow for families who have lost a much-loved member of their family.
For Donna McFarlane and Thomas Wilson it is when they especially remember their mother, Emily, who twice contracted sepsis at New Year – in 2014 and again, fatally, in 2017.
Emily, who was 59 when she died, was first confirmed as having contracted sepsis on January 1, 2014 while in the Victoria Hospital, Kirkcaldy.
She was put on life support for 10 days after the family urged doctors “to give our mum some hope, some chance to fight”.
Donna said: “We cried and told the doctors we need to feel we have done everything we can, please put her on the life support machine and give her a fighting chance.”
During the long days that followed, the family were constantly at Emily’s bedside playing music from her favourite band, Queen, in the hope it would help wake her.
After 10 days, Emily was taken off life support but remained in hospital for almost five months before her recovery was complete with Donna saying “she looked fantastic on her return to the family home”.
Three years later, and at the same time of year, Emily became unwell again. A doctor was called and antibiotics prescribed for urinary and chest infections but there was no improvement. Thomas alerted the doctor who had her admitted to hospital where her condition continued to deteriorate.
Emily was admitted to the Medical High Dependency Unit where she had a chest X-ray and a kidney scan and it was found that she had a small hole in her bowel which was leaking causing her kidney not to function properly and not produce urine.
Donna said: “The doctor advised there was only one option as they could not operate to fix the hole in her bowel as mum was very sick and she would most likely die on the operating table. This left only one option to treat the sepsis with antibiotics and hope that it would kickstart the kidney.
“We were told not to lose hope but we sat crying in the family waiting room as we couldn’t believe that yet again sepsis had taken hold of our mum. We then had to make those dreaded phone calls to all the family again telling them to make their way to the hospital as the next 24 hours were critical.
“We sat with our mum holding her hand, talking to her in the hope she could hear us, telling her ‘come on mum fight this, you must fight this!’ All our mum’s family all sat by her bedside talking to her in the hope she could somehow hear us.
“At around 11.15pm we saw from the machines mum was hooked up to that her heart rate was dropping, her oxygen was dropping, her blood pressure was dropping – everything was dropping. The machines were silenced and monitors turned off. We knew this meant our mum wasn’t going to win the fight – our mum was dying.
“Sadly, at 11.30pm on 7th January 2017 surrounded by family and friends, our mum lost her battle with sepsis.
“What is very important to know is that while mum was diagnosed with sepsis, the condition was not immediately recognised so it is vitally important that more effort is put into raising awareness of the symptoms and the urgent need to have the right treatment as this will help save lives.”