On March 28, 2012, Orlaith Staunton’s 12-year-old son, Rory, fell at school and cut his arm. What began as a minor injury quickly escalated. When he began exhibiting symptoms, such as vomiting, fever and pain in his leg, she took him to the emergency room. Rory’s doctor gave him fluids, diagnosed him with a stomach virus and sent him home. Two days after being discharged, Rory’s condition worsened and he was readmitted to hospital. What doctors first diagnosed as a flu virus, was actually sepsis—the body’s overwhelming and often fatal response to infection. In the time between discharge and readmission, the condition had progressed to severe sepsis and later, septic shock. Four days after he first saw a doctor, Rory died.
In healthcare, we often speak about sepsis from a big-picture, data-driven perspective, but more important than hospital outcomes and expenditures is the personal tragedy of a life cut short by a treatable condition. Following Rory’s death, Orlaith and her husband Ciaran founded The Rory Staunton Foundation for Sepsis Prevention with the stated mission to “ensure that no other child or young adult dies of sepsis resulting from the lack of a speedy diagnosis and immediate medical treatment.”
Recently, Orlaith was recognized as a L’Oreal Paris Women of Worth honoree for 2016. Women of Worth was developed to celebrate the achievements of women who volunteer their time to strengthen their communities. From this group, one individual will be recognized as the National Honoree and will be awarded $25,000 in support of their cause. Orlaith’s work with the foundation focuses on increasing public awareness through education programs and campaigns. In 2013, Orlaith’s foundation achieved national recognition when New York Governor Andrew Cuomo passed “Rory’s Regulations,” requiring all hospitals in the state to adopt evidence-based sepsis protocols to improve early diagnosis and rapid treatment. New York was the first state to pass these requirements, Illinois recently followed suit and, now, many other states are considering a similar strategy.
Orlaith’s dedication to sepsis awareness continues to impact communities and save lives across the nation and has been an inspiration to our entire team.
From now until October 28, I invite you to join us in supporting Orlaith and her fight against sepsis by voting for her to be the National Honoree for L’Oreal Paris Women of Worth for 2016.