I HAD never heard of sepsis at all even though my wife Fiona was a GP in Falkirk, but we moved into a new flat and the previous occupant had a dog that left behind flea pupae – they hatched, and we woke up with bites so that’s probably what caused the sepsis. We both went down with it so quickly.

Essentially what happens is that the body does its immune response and goes into overdrive and starts attacking itself. I thought I was going down with some weird summer cold but Fi recognised what it was and said you’ve got to go to the GP and it spiralled out of control. If I’d gone to sleep, it would have been my last sleep.

Fortunately, I was straight to A&E and was diagnosed quickly. I was on fluids and antibiotics but I was extremely disorientated. By the time I was in hospital, I was in septic shock, where there is a 40 to 60 per cent mortality rate.

Progressively, I got better and Fiona came in to see me – she was fine at that point – she was pregnant and her scan was fine too. But she started to feel unwell as she was driving home and deteriorated very quickly. The tragedy of it is that she just thought she was unwell and went to bed, thinking she needed to rest. I don’t think she would expect lightening to strike twice.

I then got a call saying that Fiona had been taken to hospital and the baby had died. I was in shock and trying to process it. I got a call to say I had to go through to Forth Valley Hospital straight away and by that point I knew something was seriously wrong.

Suddenly I was very awake. At ten to six in the morning I was told we’d had a baby girl, stillborn, Isla – at that point, I thought it was the lowest point in my life. The doctors were battling to save Fiona all day – they tried everything but nothing worked. I went to her bedside and talked to her. I told her I loved her and she was taken into theatre but she arrested and they couldn’t bring her back. The most shocking thing is it was 62 hours from when I first felt unwell.

I started asking questions such as: ‘what the hell just happened? I’ve just lost half my family’. I then set up a charity, The Fiona Elizabeth Agnew Trust – FEAT, as a way of trying to get something good to come out of something terrible. I also had a small child to look after, Robert, who’s seven.

One of the things we want to get through as a charity is it’s not necessarily for you to recognise the symptoms yourself because you may not be in that position – it’s for people around you, for everybody really, because you can become profoundly unwell very quickly and disorientated. Sepsis has been described and documented for hundreds of years, but its symptoms can be subtle and it can spiral out of control.