‘It’s not fair that they’re gone’
TWO heartbroken families who tragically lost their healthy teenage children to last year's horror flu season have joined forces to save other young lives, kicking off a nationwide awareness campaign and helping to fund the development of a lifesaving test.
Thomas Snell, a healthy 13-year-old football player died on July 22 last year, days after getting the flu, which led to sepsis, a deadly condition that causes the body to attack its own tissues and organs.
Months later in October, Brisbane girl Maddy Jones, 18, a healthy young law student and tennis player, died in startling similar circumstances to Thomas - healthy one day and on life support the next.
Their families will today come together with T for Thomas - the foundation created in memory of the young footballer.
The foundation will make a $15,000 donation to develop a rapid sepsis test that could cut down diagnosis times of the killer condition by up to two days and save of lives.
"It's just not fair that these beautiful healthy kids are gone and their families are destroyed by something that could be prevented," Thomas's aunt Yvette Clarke said.
"These grieving parents feel guilty that they didn't know about sepsis and save their child, but the first time they heard of it was when their son was on life support and that's the case for most people," she said.
Damian Jones said he was confident that if he had known about sepsis, his daughter Maddy would still be alive.
"People are so shocked when they hear about Maddy and most people that reach out had never heard of sepsis before and that's what we want to change," he said.
Paediatric emergency physician Shane George said that the Queensland-wide study to develop a rapid sepsis test could reduce diagnosis times from two days to just a few hours.
"The suggestion is that for every hour there's a delay in giving antibiotics to a child with sepsis, there's about a 5 or 6 per cent increase in mortality, so each hour is really important."
It comes as Queensland's flu season intensifies, with weekly confirmed cases almost doubling in the past month, bringing the total number of cases to more than 5270 for the year.
AMAQ president Dilip Dhupelia said that fresh supplies of the flu vaccine were due to arrive any day now and urged people to get vaccinated.
To donate to the rapid sepsis test, visit http://gchfoundation.org.au/donate/