PEOPLE could die from sepsis because they have been too afraid to seek help during the coronavirus crisis, a research charity has warned.

On World Sepsis Day, Glasgow-based Sepsis Research FEAT revealed it had heard from supporters who were concerned that sepsis diagnosis was being missed or delayed because medical staff were not aware of its symptoms and could confuse it with Covid-19 because of some similarities between the illnesses.

During lockdown there was concern people weren’t seeking the right medical assistance or were delaying contacting their GPs amid concern of the spread of the virus and now its feared Sepsis cases could be falling into the same category.

Sepsis is one of the world’s biggest killers. In Scotland alone 4000 people die from it every year. In the UK the figure is 48,000 and across the world it’s 11 million.

Colin Graham, the charity’s chief operating officer, said: “We appreciate that there are some similarities in the symptoms of sepsis and Covid-19, and this can cause confusion both for patients and medical staff. But treatment for each is very different. We urge NHS executives and the Scottish Government for their support in getting the message out to all NHS staff to keep sepsis in mind as a possibility when triaging any patient at this time, so that if they have sepsis it can be quickly identified and the correct treatment given.”

Alastair Craig knows how quickly and devastating Sepsis can be.


Mr Craig and his wife, Brenda, met when they were both 50 and married a few years later.

However, he was left heartbroken when Brenda was taken from him by Sepsis.

Mr Craig, from Glasgow, knew about the illness and of its potentially devastating consequences but, like most of us, he didn’t expect it to affect anyone close to him.

“My wife Brenda and I met ‘the modern way’ online when we had both just reached 50 in 2007 and married four years later.”

Brenda, 63, who was a Customer Service Assistant with Scottish Canals, had two sons from her previous marriage, both of whom live in Vancouver.

Mr Craig added: “In January 2020, Brenda experienced severe pain in her lower back and was diagnosed with a kidney stone and given treatment to expel it.”

“When this appeared to fail she was admitted to Glasgow Royal Infirmary for an operation to blast the stone away. Unfortunately this proved impossible and she had a stent fitted to facilitate the passage of the stone.

“Two weeks later on February 17 she went in for day surgery to remove the stent. She was supposed to leave later that afternoon but at about 5pm she phoned me to say she had been kept in as her blood pressure had dropped.

“I visited her that evening and returned home. At about 4am on the Tuesday there was a knock at the door and there were two police officers there who told me that the hospital had contacted them to alert me to the fact that Brenda had been taken into ICU.”

Mr Craig, 64, got to the hospital to find his wife awake but a bit agitated, partly through lack of sleep and partly through painkillers.

He added: “I was told she had been diagnosed with sepsis and her condition was causing the medical staff some alarm. They told me that her sons should maybe make the journey from Canada.

“That afternoon they put Brenda on dialysis as her kidneys were not functioning and they were in contact with the Liver Unit in Edinburgh regarding a possible transplant. At about 8pm she was taken for a scan to determine the level of damage that her liver had suffered and, when she came back from that, the decision was made to sedate her in order that dialysis could be resumed. I stayed in the hospital that night.”

Early the following morning Mr Craig was told Brenda had undergone six hours of dialysis, that her blood pressure was still erratic and that they were making her comfortable.

“Within an hour her blood pressure started to drop dramatically and her heart rate began to fluctuate,” Mr Craig added. “At 7.30am the doctor on duty told me that she was unlikely to see out the day. Four hours later the light went out on my life. Just over 48 hours after entering hospital Brenda passed away peacefully. Her sons arrived from Canada that night.”

The family had been aware of the risk of Sepsis as they had a connection with quadruple amputee Corinne Hutton, who started her own charity Finding Your Feet after her hands and feet amputated after suffering acute pneumonia and sepsis.

Mr Craig added: “I was aware of how deadly it was, of the devastating consequences it could have. I just never thought it would affect anyone close to me directly. I know Brenda was ‘unlucky’. I now know women can be more susceptible to it, particularly after surgery such as hers.

Mr Craig is taking part in a Kiltwalk today, walking about 20 miles, to raise money for Sepsis Research. His route is from Bowling to Glasgow.