Sepsis Awareness – In Loving Memory Of Luke Dean

In 2013, everything changed for me and my family. Luke passed away from Sepsis in September 2013 at the young age of 22 years old. I was in my final year of university and really struggled to cope with the loss of Luke, who was like my brother. Grief has no time limit. It is suffocating. December 2017 marked our 5th Christmas without our lovely Luke. Christmas was his favourite time of year and it is always a very hard time for my family. I miss him every single day and think about him all the time. Even though there was only a months age difference between us, Luke was technically my nephew. I had grown up with my dad and step mum caring for Luke through his whole life. We used to go camping as a family, Luke loved the seaside so we would go on regular trips to the seaside for fish and chips. He would get me in trouble if I changed the TV channel from one of his favourite shows, and then be in absolute hysterics afterwards laughing to himself because he’d got me told off! That’s the kind of cheeky character he was and which is also why we used to call him a cheeky monkey.

See your GP immediately or call NHS 111 if you’ve recently had an infection or injury and you recognise any of the possible early signs of sepsis. If sepsis is suspected, you’ll usually be referred to hospital for further diagnosis and treatment. Severe sepsis and septic shock are medical emergencies. If you think you or someone in your care has one of these conditions, call 999 and ask for an ambulance.


Although Luke was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy from just after birth, he was the bubbliest and loveliest lad ever. Due to Cerebral Palsy, Luke was unable to walk and talk but he could still express when he was sad, upset, happy, found something funny, etc. He just couldn’t actually communicate with words. He did normal things like any other person would do such as going to school, going swimming, had favourite meals, favourite TV shows, favourite music, etc.

“44,000 people in the UK lose their lives to sepsis every year.” The UK Sepsis Trust

It was sepsis which took my amazing nephews life. I will always remember when my incredibly strong step mum looked me directly in the eyes on the day of Luke’s funeral and said to me, “How am I going to get through life without my boy?” It broke my heart. Luke was unwell for a month(ish) with diarrhoea, vomiting, not drinking or eating, crying in pain, etc. My step mum sought out medical advice on a number of occasions from 111, Luke’s nurses who visited regularly and the on-duty GP multiple times. No one suspected sepsis, at all. There was no mention of it even being a possibility. The advice the GP kept giving was to keep up with regular water and paracetomol for temperature control, blaming Luke’s symptoms on “a nasty stomach bug”. My step mum knew something wasn’t right and kept asking for medical advice, but continued getting the same responses. It wasn’t until the middle of the night one particular evening where Luke was screaming in pain, so an ambulance was instantly called. Luke was taken into hospital and my family were told he had a matter of hours left. We lost him that night.

We need to treat sepsis the same as a heart attack. Sepsis kills, quickly, which is why sepsis awareness is so important and vital. Anyone can develop sepsis after an injury or minor infection, although some people are more vulnerable. Awareness of the symptoms (these differ depending on the individuals age) needs to be a priority. Sepsis needs to be one of the first things medical professionals consider. Even by just suggesting sepsis to the medical professionals who are treating the individual, could be the thing which alerts them and saves a life.

“There are around 123,000 cases of sepsis a year in England.” NHS Choices

Go straight to A&E or call 999 if your child has any of these symptoms:

  • looks mottled, bluish or pale
  • is very lethargic or difficult to wake
  • feels abnormally cold to touch
  • is breathing very fast
  • has a rash that does not fade when you press it
  • has a fit or convulsion

Early symptoms of Sepsis in older children and adults may include:

  • a high temperature (fever) or low body temperature
  • chills and shivering
  • a fast heartbeat
  • fast breathing

Symptoms of severe Sepsis or septic shock can include:

  • feeling dizzy or faint
  • a change in mental state – such as confusion or disorientation
  • diarrhoea
  • nausea and vomiting
  • slurred speech
  • severe muscle pain
  • severe breathlessness
  • less urine production than normal – for example, not urinating for a day
  • cold, clammy and pale or mottled skin
  • loss of consciousness


There definitely needs to be more sepsis awareness, although things are already improving as I’ve seen a lot of campaigns in both my personal life and through work in recent years. The UK Government are definitely starting to work on sepsis awareness. We definitely didn’t think we would have to say goodbye to Luke so soon. Sepsis instantly took Luke away from us and our lives haven’t been the same since. All I can say is, we all need to realise how lucky we are and treasure moments with our families/the people we love. Don’t waste a single second that you have with them while they’re still here. You never know what could happen. I love you and miss you Luke x

“Although it’s difficult today to see beyond the sorrow, may looking back in memory help comfort you tomorrow.”

You can find out more information about Sepsis from the following resources:

Disclaimer: I am not medically trained. Please seek any medical advice from your GP, hospital or a trained medical professional.

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