HSE promises sepsis awareness campaign in memory of 'Lil Red'
The family of a Dublin teenager who died from sepsis has said the HSE has promised a new public awareness campaign will start in the new year.
Finglas schoolboy and rapper Sean 'Lil Red' Hughes was just 15 when he died in January 2018 after collapsing at home while recovering from a chest infection.
His parents Joe and Karen have since undertaken a campaign to raise awareness of the illness which claims 3,000 lives in Ireland every year - more than heart attacks, breast cancer or lung cancer - and can kill a healthy person within 12 hours.
Sepsis happens when the body develops an infection which then affects organs such as the heart, the lungs, brain and kidneys.
Signs of sepsis include rapid breathing and fast heartbeat, pale or mottled skin, confusion or sleepiness, fever and chills, feeling sick and extreme pain.
"We knew nothing about sepsis before Sean died," his dad Joe told the Herald.
"Then we learned that it kills a lot of people every year so we wondered why there was no awareness campaign about it like the ones for stroke and meningitis."
Joe and Karen have spent two years funding their own campaign and getting posters, fridge magnets, car stickers and bracelets produced, as well as talking in schools about sepsis.
"We called our campaign Lil Red's Legacy (LRL), and we are determined to raise awareness about sepsis," Joe said.
Joe and Karen eventually met Health Minister Simon Harris and the HSE which promised a national campaign.
"We had a follow-up meeting with Simon Harris and the HSE last week, and at this meeting minister Harris confirmed that in January there will be 55 new ambulances in Ireland which will be displaying the signs and symptoms of sepsis on them," said Joe.
"He also confirmed that the HSE will be putting out leaflets and posters in GP waiting rooms, clinics and pharmacies with the life-saving information about sepsis.
"They have promised to put a cartoon likeness of Sean on the leaflets with LRL on them to honour Lil Red's Legacy.
"We told the minister that we will be celebrating Sean's second anniversary in the Mansion House on January 11 and he said he will be there."
He added he was delighted that the awareness campaign was finally going to reach a much wider audience.
Mr Harris previously told Sean's family he could not comprehend the grief they had endured since his death.
"The strength you have shown since Sean's passing is admirable. Your advocacy will save lives. I know you have worked day and night to ensure no other family suffers in the same way," he added.
He then wrote to the head of the National Ambulance Service and his colleague Joe McHugh seeking help in raising awareness about sepsis.
"I know that you have been working closely with the HSE sepsis programme to develop a patient information leaflet that will help raise awareness of the symptoms of sepsis," he said.
"When the final version has been agreed I will write to the Irish College of General Practitioners and the Irish Pharmacy Union asking for the help of their members."