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Sean's Story

Picture of Sean's Story

Up-and-coming rap artist Sean Hughes from Finglas in Dublin was only 15 years old when he died from sepsis on 12th January 2018. His dad Joe and mum Karen, both trustees of the charity, have been sharing his story ever since to raise awareness.

Sean was a healthy young man with no underlying health issues. On Monday January 8th he came home from school and told his mum he was not feeling too well. He was displaying flu-like symptoms, which were similar to those of a chest infection. On Tuesday, he was feeling slightly better. On Wednesday, his mum took him to the family doctor who examined Sean and treated him for a chest infection, including prescribing antibiotics. She said that Sean had a high fever and a very bad chest infection. She was concerned that it might progress into pneumonia. Karen started Sean on the antibiotics immediately. However, with the severity of his cough, it was impossible to keep the medication down. He was coughing up a lot of phlegm. He could not sleep at all that night.

On Thursday evening, Sean was sitting on the sofa in the living room watching TV with his mother. Karen was talking to Sean when he suddenly became unresponsive. Karen called for Joe who was upstairs, and he ran down and immediately got Sean off the couch and placed him on the floor, checked his airways and began CPR. Karen called the ambulance and Joe continued to do CPR until the paramedics arrived and took over. They put him on a gurney, loaded him into the ambulance and brought him to hospital.

He was in Temple Street Children's Hospital in Dublin just minutes after midnight. The doctors in the Emergency Department went to work on him immediately. His parents were again asked about Sean's medical history, to which they again replied that Sean was a healthy young man who was treated with antibiotics for a chest infection by the family doctor.

The doctors in the hospital were baffled - they had no idea what was wrong with him. One doctor said that if Sean was to survive there would be some damage to his brain as a result of the lack of oxygen. After a while, the family were told that the doctors wanted to do a MRI scan and move him up to the Intensive Care Unit. They let them know that we might want to have some family come up to the hospital, as all the indications were that Sean was not going to pull through and that it might be only a matter of hours until he would pass away.

He did pass away in the morning hours of Friday January 12th 2018.

Joe and Karen were officially informed at Sean's inquest that the cause of his death was sepsis. They had never heard of sepsis before this. Not once were they educated on this silent global killer which stole their son's life. At no time was the term sepsis mentioned by the family doctor, the paramedics, or the doctors in the hospital.

Joe and Karen began educating themselves about sepsis, but were shocked at the low level of public awareness in Ireland around this global medical emergency.

To their credit, Joe, Karen and Sean's sister Zoe did all that they could to raise awareness of sepsis in Ireland after Sean's tragic death.“Lil Red's Legacy Sepsis Awareness Campaign” has spread the message in Ireland and beyond that awareness of sepsis saves lives, and that extraordinary legacy continues to thrive through the family's proud involvement with the Irish Sepsis Foundation.