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Sep 5, 2013

Healthy Living takes a look at sepsis

Sepsis is a most common, but least recognized disease. Worldwide, every few seconds someone dies from sepsis. September thirteenth, will be celebrated as world sepsis day and Belize is the first in the region to sign onto the Global Sepsis Alliance. The Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital, Critical Care Association as well as the Belize Medical Association, are all part of the alliance that is advocating for sepsis to be given priority in the global development agenda. Healthy Living speaks this week with two of the doctors leading the initiative and two survivors of sepsis.


Nurse Audrey Brown, Mother of Ariel

Nurse Audrey Brown

“This is my worst nightmare this is what I’ve been trying to avoid forever from since she was three months old.”


Ariel Vernon, 21 yrs, survivor of Sepsis

“I had fever and went home with the fever came back in the 13th with fevers and it was like a week after when I started with shortness of breath. Couldn’t breathe good and every breathe I took I was getting tired and weak”


Marleni Cuellar, Reporting

The worse nightmare that Nurse Audrey Brown speaks of, played out in May of this year, when her 21 year old daughter was diagnosed with the life threatening illness – sepsis. Fever, chills, and shortness of breath – the same symptoms that led 15year old Ashanti to the hospital as well.


Ashanti Bethran, 15 yrs, survivor of sepsisAshanti Bethran

“The night I mi feel weak and I start to cough blood with cold and then the morning I tell my ma I want to go to the clinic matron Roberts and then they sent us here, to Karl Heusner…all I know they tell my ma I have to go to the ICU because I couldn’t breathe good.”


Sherett Bethran, Mother of Ashanti

“Two doctors checked her and they said, Ms Bethran your daughter is in a very serious condition and they do certain and test and right away as we came she went straight to ICU. They said: Ms Bethran your daughter needs to go on the machine. At that time she was very scared.”


Both young ladies were diagnosed with sepsis – the result of infections that had progressed to pneumonia and eventually the life threatening disease.


Dr Jorge Hidalgo, Head of the Intensive Care Unit, KHMH

“We can have someone that doesn’t have any illness. It could be regular people that develop throat infection and eventually we don’t treat it properly it can become pneumonia. If we don’t recognize it early then this pneumonia can take someone to intensive care unit. Sepsis and septic shock and multi organ failure until 60 to 70 percent.”


Dr Jorge Hidalgo & Dr Pedro Arriaga are two internal specialists and members of the critical care association; who are a part of the global movement working to bring the focus on this disease.


Dr Pedro Arriaga, Chief Internist, KHMH

Dr Pedro Arriaga

“We have very few numbers in the country but we know because of our experience that in intensive care in the hospital we know that the amount of patients who suffer this condition is extremely high. Part of the international initiative to control sepsis in the world is that we have close to 20 to 30 million people suffering from sepsis and every few seconds we have a person that has sepsis and dies because of the condition.”


In fact, in the developing world, sepsis accounts for 60-80% of deaths per year in children. Now there are no statistics for Belize but based on experience the medical community knows it is a problem.


Dr. Pedro Arriaga

“We have numbers that show that this condition is so so prevalent all over the world and it is very unknown, we have a tremendous amount of marketing that focus on breast cancer or cancer in general, cardiac disease, heart condition, we have evidence that there are more people dying from sepsis than from heart attack or patients dying from cancer.”


Sepsis can affect any person, at any age. Once there is an infection, there is the possibility of sepsis and the life threatening complications that can follow.


Sherett Bethran

Sherett Bethran

“During that time on the machine she went flat, and that was, I said lord Jesus please be here for me. The nurse had to jump on her to bring her back.”


Nurse Audrey Brown

“It was days of not sleeping not eating getting all the resources together to get it all done.”


Dr Jorge Hidalgo

“Having a patient in the intensive care unit is very overwhelming for the family as well as for the patients because we are facing a situation that we are not familiar with and so when we are discussing survival issues with the family and we are telling them that the low one are facing a situation or condition that can take their live then this is a very serious situation. Sepsis have many stages and the earlier stage of sepsis is fever, the heart rate is pumping more than usual chills and nausea…depends on what all the infections. Fever chills and tachycardia and sometimes we have respiratory distress are some of the symptoms we have to recognize that something is happening.


Even though sepsis is considered the most common disease worldwide; it is also the least recognized. The main effort at this time is to educate the public on the early signs of sepsis. If you experience fever, chills, weakness and shortness of breath, seek medical attention. Properly treating and preventing infections is preventing sepsis.


Dr. Pedro Arriaga

“We want to be sure that we have the numbers, that what we are doing here, how well we are treating sepsis that we are a part of the global movement of updating how we are suppose to be treating sepsis making more physician and nurses more efficient when we are dealing with patients with this condition.”


Dr Jorge Hidalgo

“We are able to recognize that something is happening in an earlier stage. We have more options to prevent the further deterioration.”


Sherett Bethran

“Any kind of infection see medical help right aweway. Don’t think it is just an ordinary infection because I didn’t know that she was that bad anything that you have just seek medical help for it.”


The medical community has been implementing the guidelines in treating sepsis from 2008 and in 2012 held their first national symposium on sepsis to keep updated on the guidelines and other topics about sepsis. This year on world sepsis day, the medical community will be gathering for the second national sepsis symposium.


Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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