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'It could be sepsis' - dad of 'Lil Red' hits out as flu victims told to avoid GPs


Sean ‘Lil Red’ Hughes

Sean ‘Lil Red’ Hughes

Sean ‘Lil Red’ Hughes

The family of a Finglas teenager who died of sepsis have slammed Health Minister Simon Harris and the HSE for telling flu sufferers to stay away from GPs and hospitals struggling to cope with an influx of patients.

Joe Hughes, whose son Sean 'Lil Red' Hughes was only 15 when he died two years ago, hit out at the advice, saying it could prevent people who potentially have sepsis from seeking help.

He said sepsis and flu share similar symptoms, but sepsis can kill a healthy person in 12 hours and the chances of a fatal outcome increase 8pc for every hour the condition is undiagnosed.

Mr Hughes said flu can also develop into sepsis, and urged people who are concerned to get themselves checked.

As the flu season began to escalate last month, Mr Harris advised people to go to undertheweather.ie to find out about self-treatment.

He said people who have flu should not necessarily visit their GP or hospital as they may spread the virus.

"Many of us who get the flu will not need to go to hospital - we can actually look after ourselves well at home," the minister said.


"Some people might need to pick up the phone and ring their GP, ring their pharmacist, and for some people they may need to go to the hospital as well."

Mr Harris and the HSE made the comments in an effort to reduce the spread of flu.

However, Mr Hughes said early recognition and treatment is vital with sepsis.

"How can you know you have sepsis unless you get it checked? Its symptoms are similar to flu," he said.

"I would encourage people to seek assessment for peace of mind, and it could save a few lives.

"If we had gone to the hospital with Sean instead of waiting to bring him to the doctor, which we were going to do the next day, then maybe we would have had a different outcome."

Sean had been getting over a chest infection and had complained of being unwell again.

His mother, Karen Phoenix, decided to take him to the doctor the next day.

However, he later collapsed and could not be revived. He was rushed to hospital but died.

Meanwhile, a Finglas pizzeria is naming a pizza in honour of Sean on the second anniversary of his death in an effort to raise funds and awareness of sepsis.

A spokesman for Roberto's Pizzeria in the Finglas Village Centre said all the proceeds from the special edition pizza sold on Sunday will be donated to the Lil Red's Legacy Sepsis Awareness Campaign.

The 12-inch pizza with ham, pepperoni and spicy chicken, which was Sean's favourite, will be on sale for €10.

Sean's parents responded to the gesture with a message on the Roberto's Pizzeria Facebook page.

"The main man would be chuffed to know that a pizza has been named after him," they said. "What an honour. Thank you all at Roberto's Pizzeria."