Facebook message helped mother to spot son’s sepsis

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A MOTHER-of-three has described how spotting a friend’s Facebook post about the signs and symptoms of potentially deadly sepsis helped save her eight-year-old son.

L to r Ewan Ruddy (8), Saskia (12), Alex (41), Lachlan (13) (24920641)

Now, Alex Ruddy is urging other parents to learn the tell-tale signs of blood poisoning to avoid tragedy.

Victoria College Prep pupil Ewan Ruddy tripped and fell at the Zoo earlier this month as he ran to see the bears in their enclosure. However, the minor injuries to his hand became infected.

Mrs Ruddy (41) only spotted a key sign – a red track following the vein on Ewan’s wrist – because of a friend’s Facebook post she had seen more than two years ago.

Ewan is now back to full health, but Mrs Ruddy said it could have been a very different story. The St Mary resident shared her family’s experience by writing on Facebook – her post has since gone viral – and she says a stranger contacted her to say she had read the message, which prompted her to visit her doctor, where she too was diagnosed with sepsis.

Mrs Ruddy said: ‘My friend Rebecca’s son Jacob was bitten by a spider locally and she posted on Facebook about that about two years ago. She used the word “tracking” about how the infection moved down the vein and that stuck with me. If you look at the photo [of my son] you can see the tracking down the vein.

Track mark of sepsis infection of Ewan Ruddy (8) arm (24920643)

‘My message is that parents, everyone, needs to keep on eye on cuts, bites, stings. Keep your eye on it and if you see a red line, do something about.

‘It just goes to show [by how many times the message was shared on Facebook] that lots of people didn’t know this. Lots of people would give it a couple of days. But sepsis can be rapid – it can happen in 12 hours and you are hospitalised. If I had not known that and, if it was not for my friend’s son’s spider bite, I would not have known and we would have carried on as normal. Who knows what could have happened?’


Mrs Ruddy, a director for law firm Oben Regulatory, said her son was showing no other symptoms – such as flu-like aches and pains – that might be associated with an infection and added that the wound was not ‘gunky’.

Ewan Ruddy

She said: ‘A few days after I got contacted by a lady on Facebook who had seen my post. She said she had gone to get checked and she just wanted to thank me.’

Former hospital nurse Verity Sangan, who now works in the private sector and is writing a doctorate on sepsis, said her primary advice to parents was to get their child checked if they had any doubts.

‘From my research, lots of the things that come up from inquests is parents saying they just knew something was not right with their child. I would say to parents, if you have worries get them seen ASAP – and that is just what this lady did. Children, in particular, suffering from sepsis can decline rapidly.’

According to figures from the UK, sepsis kills 15,000 people in England every year.

Jack Maguire

By Jack Maguire


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