Family work to raise awareness of sepsis

Luke Hendrick with Bonnie and Dalton

Luke Hendrick with Bonnie and Dalton - Credit: Archant

The family of a father-of-two who died suddenly are working to raise awareness so the undiagnosed infection he had can be spotted sooner.

Luke Hendrick had been feeling unwell for several weeks and suffered symptoms that his doctors said was the flu. In fact, his streptococcus A infection had developed into sepsis.

If caught early, it can be treated with antibiotics, but the 37-year-old’s infection became invasive and affected his vital organs.

The former Newton Poppleford resident died shortly after walking home on September 12 last year.

His family said they only learned of the illness at his inquest.

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Nichola Wale, his former partner, had never heard of sepsis before then.

Now, a year on, she and Luke’s family are determined to raise awareness so it can be identified earlier.

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“It’s more common than people think,” she said. “It was a bit of a shock. I didn’t understand. We want to do something in Luke’s name. We need to get awareness out there.”

Sidmothian Nichola said the family knew something was wrong when Luke was unwell as he had been visiting his GP regularly, showing cold and flu-like symptoms and a sore throat.

He had a weak immune system and his infection progressed into sepsis, an infection of the blood that causes a fever, rapid heartbeat and rapid breathing.

The trainee drug and alcohol counsellor collapsed shortly after returning to his Exmouth home.

“We are doing this in aid of the Sepsis Trust, to bring awareness to mothers, teachers and the general public, so that it is understood better,” said Nichola, 24.

“Perfectly fit and healthy people can be struck down. A simple thing like an insect bite can cause the blood to become infected and without the simple, early use of antibiotics, it can also develop and [people can] die quickly.”

Luke’s dad, Newton Poppleford resident Laurie, is having his red sports car redesigned to look like Lightning McQueen – because ‘sepsis acts like lightning’ – from animated children’s film Cars.

The family hope to display it in Exmouth next month as September 13 is Sepsis Awareness Day, before driving it around Devon. For more information, search for NHS choices.

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