World Sepsis Day: William’s Story

This is William. William is one, well one and 17 days, us parents need to add those extra days in, especially with our first born. William was born on my birthday on the 27th of November 2013 and this photo was taken in October 2014. Well, how can William be one (and 17 days) I hear you ask. Well you see, William will be forever one and 17 days. On that 17th day into his second year, William died.


William died at home from a condition called sepsis. Sepsis is the body's reaction to an infection, in which the body attacks its own tissues and organs. If not spotted quickly it can lead to multiple organ failure, and in 44,000 cases in the UK every year, it can take a life. This little-known-about condition kills more people than breast, bowel, prostate cancer, and road traffic accidents combined. It does not discriminate and can affect the elderly, adults who are fit, healthy and in the prime of their life, and it also affects children, and babies. Shockingly it is also the biggest killer of pregnant women in the UK.


I am just a normal mum, we are just a normal family. I worked in an office, and so did my partner. We live in an end of terrace house in a small town in Cornwall. We worked, we came home, William attended nursery and weekends were either spent at the beach or soft play. We were your typical family. Then on Sunday the 14th of December 2014 I went to check on William in the morning; he had been poorly for a couple of days and we had checked on him during the night. We have black-out blinds, and I wear glasses which I didn’t have on. I stroked William’s cheek and it was warm but he didn’t stir; I reached through the bars of the cot and his arm was cool; I stroked his side and he still didn’t stir. I rushed to open the blinds, I turned and found that my firstborn, my beautiful little William had died. I just didn’t know what had happened.

In the weeks leading to William's death, the chest infection and pneumonia he had been suffering from had been misdiagnosed by all the medical professionals who assessed him as a viral infection, and the 3 times we sought help in the 36 hours before he died, we were sent home. The doctors weren’t thinking sepsis, and because they weren’t thinking sepsis, neither were we.

Despite the fact 120 adults and 4 children die from this condition every day in the UK, awareness is shockingly low. So, I hope by sharing William’s story with you today, on what is World Sepsis Day, I can make a few more parents aware of sepsis. The symptoms can be found on the symptom card below and on the UK Sepsis Trust website. I wish I had seen this card when William was ill; simply, I didn’t know that the symptoms that William was collectively displaying were that of a deadly condition called sepsis. So please, I ask you, when your little one is poorly, never be afraid to ask, “Could this be Sepsis?”.

For more information or if you would like to get in touch, please contact Melissa at [email protected] To donate to the UK Sepsis Trust in William's memory, please visit