INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — More than a quarter-million people die across the United States every year as a result of sepsis. A local family is working to share that message after their son nearly died from septic shock when he developed a flesh-eating disease.
September is Sepsis Awareness Month but the family said their efforts to save others will continue far beyond.
Jonathin Perez is now a happy healthy 6-year-old boy, but doctors at Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health said had he showed up just a couple hours later he probably would have died.
He was just 4 years old when his parents took him to Riley for unusual swelling in his arm after a few days of not feeling well.
At first, his parents thought he had the flu, they even took him to a family doctor who said he just needed rest and fluids.
But something didn’t feel right about the way Perez was acting, so they took him to Riley. Within hours he was in septic shock and his organs had begun to shut down.
Doctors were able to save Perez’s life and arm but eventually had to amputate his right leg due to severe tissue damage.
He stayed in the hospital for nearly three months.
Dr. Kamal Abulebda discovered the sepsis in Perez’s body and said symptoms typically look like the common flu. He said he doesn’t want to worry parents and families, but it’s important to be overly-cautious and trust your gut if you think something isn’t right.
“You can never be faulted for seeking early medical care even if you think it’s a silly thing. The worst thing that will happen is you go and the doctor will see it and say it’s all good, thanks for coming he will be fine. But sometimes that’s exactly how we can catch early infection before it even develops to sepsis or an overwhelming infection that can hit so many organs in the body,” said Abulebda.
Two years later, Perez’s parents still aren’t sure how he got so sick. They didn’t notice any cuts or open wounds anywhere on his body.
Experts said that is why sepsis is commonly known as the “silent killer” and continues to be a leading cause of death in children.
The Perez family doesn’t want any other family to experience what they did. They’ve created a Facebook page to continue spreading their message.
Some symptoms of sepsis include fever or low temperature, rapid heart rate, fast breathing, clammy and pale skin, confusion or disorientation, shortness of breath and nausea and vomiting.