Iris Ng is a mom and someone who hadn’t heard of sepsis prior to her son nearly losing his life because of it. In a Facebook post, Iris shares her son’s story, through pictures, in hopes of opening other people’s eyes to the dangers of sepsis.
Iris first shared her son, Jarrod‘s, story on September 12, which is “World Sepsis Day.” She wrote that sepsis put Jarrod in and out of the hospital for six months.
“With this, we hope that parents become aware of the symptoms and also press to escalate if they feel like they have been dismissed or their concerns have not been addressed. Please feel free to share as awareness can save a life.”
Jarrod’s story began on March 28. At the time, he was a “happy and healthy 4-year-old attending kindergarten,” but soon all of that would change. While at school, Iris said she received a call saying that Jarrod was lethargic and was battle a bit of fever. She left work to pick him up, but by the time she arrived, Jarrod’s fever had vanished and he was back up, running around, and playing with his classmates.
The following day, which happened to be a Friday, Jarrod still wasn’t showing any signs of the fever his teacher had mentioned a day earlier. However, Iris kept Jarrod home from school anyway “just in case.” Then, on Saturday, the fever returned.
“Jarrod developed a fever again and this time with a rash on his face that went white when we pressed it. Home doctor checked and he said it was a viral fever and asked us to give him panadol and neurofen.”
And on March 31st, the doctor’s orders seemed to be working. Jarrod’s fever was down, his rash seemed to be fading, and as Iris wrote, “He even helped with peeling potatoes for dinner.” And then came another drastic change on April 1.
The rash on his face had grown and he had started complaining about a pain in his leg. At this point, Iris sought a second opinion, taking him to another General Practioner. This is one agreed with the first home doctor, telling the worried mother that the leg pain could be a symptom of the inflammation that can stem from viral fever. At this point, Iris explained that his fever was still off and on.
“Tuesday 2nd April: Hubs stayed home with him because the fever and rash hasn’t subsided that morning. And he wouldn’t bear weight on his right leg. By afternoon he was in so much pain and discomfort he told hubs to take him to the hosp so the docs could take away the pain and fix his leg. We took him straight to the ER at 5 p.m.”
Things started going south as they waited hours in the emergency room. Iris wrote that by 10:30 p.m., “Jarrod began vomiting and more diarrhea. Hubs paged the medical staff to help again but it was 45 minutes later before a nurse came in. She took [his] blood pressure and checked his vitals…and before we knew it the room was filled with doctors, nurses and medical staff.”
What Is Sepsis?
Iris explained, “They knew he had sepsis but did not know what caused it.” According to the Mayo Clinic, sepsis can be a potentially life-threatening condition. It’s caused by the body’s response to an infection.
“The body normally releases chemicals into the bloodstream to fight an infection. Sepsis occurs when the body’s response to these chemicals is out of balance, triggering changes that can damage multiple organ systems.”
Sepsis is very common and can happen to anyone. And as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports, symptoms can include extreme pain and discomfort, rapid heart rate, fever, sweat, chills, shortness of breath, and more. It also likely affects “more than 30 million people worldwide every year,” according to the World Health Organization.
Just Six Hours After Walking Through the ER Doors
As Iris continued, by 11:30 p.m., Jarrod’s body began to shut down. And as his organs began to fail, the 4-year-old was put on kidney dialysis. And just five hours after his kidney started to fail, they were told his heart was giving out as well.
Doctors had rushed Jarrod into open-heart surgery to “bypass his heart function using an ECMO machine. […] We were fortunate he was put on [the ECMO machine] just in time as his heart had stopped right after the surgery.”
“3rd April, 7 a.m.: His condition had continued to deteriorate and they had exhausted the limits of life support, despite their best efforts his condition was worsening. By this stage, he was on 30 different medications including broad-spectrum antibiotics while they continued to search for a root cause (Kawasaki Disease & Group A Strep were the leading suspects so he was treated for both). We were told that if we needed to contact family that now would be the time to do so. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Why was this happening to my little boy? He was a good little boy and a full life ahead of him. Why did it have to happen to him?”
There was nothing more Iris or her husband could do but stand by their little boy and pray for a miracle.
A Waiting Game
Iris says the ECMO machine is ultimately what gave her son and his doctors more time. She wrote that had they not gone to The Royal Children’s Hospital, one of the only hospitals around that used ECMO to help treat severe cases of sepsis, Jarrod wouldn’t have lived past April 3.
The ECMO was doing what his heart couldn’t do on its own, but despite that, “Jarrod had developed blue/purple patches in his skin along with severe blistering throughout his body which were all consequences of septic shock. His right leg continued to swell and at one point was 3 times the size.”
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Although the surgery was risky given how sick Jarrod had become, doctors turned his room into an OR and made the decision to operate anyway, believing that whatever was attacking his leg was what caused the sepsis.
“Two hours later we received news that surgery went well. It seemed that the leg was a secondary cause, the Group A Strep bacteria had made its way into the bloodstream and bones and cut-off blood supply to the leg resulting in muscle and tissue damage.”
Jarrod spent a total of 24 days in the ICU, eight of which were spent in a medically induced coma while on life support.
A Long Recovery Process with a Happy Ending
The following three months were spent in the hospital as Jarrod continued to get healthy again. That was then followed up by another three months of in-home care. Nonetheless, as time went by, Jarrod continued to get well and learned how to walk all over again. Iris wrote that when it all was said and done, Jarrod had undergone 20 different procedures.
“As a parent, it really hurt to see how much pain he was in and you could do nothing about it except tell him to ‘never give up.'”
Thanks to the hospital staff and ASEA, a supplement that contains active redox signaling molecules, powerful cellular messengers that help protect, rejuvenate, and restore cells, Jarrod is nearly 100-percent recovered.
Iris wrote, “He may have battle scars and one of his legs may always be smaller than the other due to the muscle removed but we are just glad the still has his legs.” Jarrod also became a big brother while he was in the hospital. And despite everything he went through, his mom said he is the best big brother to his new baby sister.
The proud mom then shared a message to other parents out there. “From our experience, if your child appears sicker than you’ve ever seen then take them to the emergency department and ask if it could be sepsis and insist on a second opinion/escalation. The time that you see symptoms and when it becomes critical is a matter of hours.”