Why today is such an important milestone

First published in the Daily Mail on Monday, 05 February 2018.

Today is a landmark occasion for the people of Scotland as their Government launches a national campaign against a “silent killer”: sepsis.

I applaud the Scottish Government’s decision to begin raising awareness of the dangers of sepsis because it will undoubtedly save hundreds of lives in the future.

Furthermore, I congratulate those, particularly the Scottish Daily Mail, who lobbied so passionately and effectively against people who claimed that a new campaign was unnecessary.

Every time I read about a new death of someone from sepsis I wonder to myself whether such a misfortune could have been avoided: whether someone’s husband, wife, father, mother, son or daughter might still be alive today if we all knew more about the symptoms of sepsis and how to spot them.

Less than three years ago sepsis came within a whisker of claiming my life – and all because I was one of the vast majority of people who are blissfully unaware of the symptoms of sepsis or how many lives it claims every year.

As a result of being taken seriously ill with sepsis in September 2015, I spent 19 days in intensive care and throughout that time it was unclear whether I would live or die.

Eventually, I was one of the lucky ones: I pulled through and I was able to celebrate my landmark 70th birthday that I so nearly missed.

As I was recovering, I started to learn more about sepsis. It affects 250,000 a year in the UK and, of these, some 44,000 will die. In Scotland alone, some 4,000 people a year die as a result of sepsis, which is caused when the body’s immune system overacts to an infection.

Since making a good recovery, I have done all I can to raise awareness of sepsis. I have co-operated in numerous ways with The UK Sepsis Trust and I have been willing to share my own traumatic experience of sepsis in the hope that it saves lives.

One of the most chilling statistics is that one in three Britons has never even heard of sepsis. Of those who have heard of it, one in four does not believe it is a medical emergency. I hope that today’s campaign will have a major impact on statistics like these.

As today’s sepsis awareness campaign is launched, my message to others is to learn from my failings. In short, I urge people: “Do as I say, not as I did.”

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