A grandmother who developed sepsis and later found out her four-year-old grandson had the disease and Strep A at the same time as she said they were “lucky to be alive.”
Lorna Conaghan, a retired business controls analyst from Gourock, Inverclyde, and her grandson Alfie Crawford, four, both suffered from sepsis at the same time and Lorna “just couldn’t believe it”.
The 63-year-old said the illness left her with hallucinations, “mottled skin” and a “stone color”.
Lorna was due to have a shoulder replacement in September 2022, but on the morning of the surgery she “wasn’t feeling right” and was feeling “strained and weak” – but which she blamed on her nerves.
Little did she know that this was her first sign of sepsis.
After informing the doctors, they soon discovered that one of her organs was infected and she was admitted to the hospital’s high dependency ward.
The next day, Lorna was diagnosed with sepsis as her skin appeared patchy, and doctors told her that if she had contracted it later on, she “would have been dead”.
After taking antibiotics and a few more hospital visits, Lorna began to recover, but it took 11 months to “get back to normal” and have her blood pressure regulated.
While Lorna was in hospital her grandson Alfie, who was three years old at the time, had chickenpox and a cold that progressed to sepsis and strep A.
Lorna thinks she realized something was wrong because Alfie’s mother knew about her sepsis symptoms.
Alfie’s lungs were “full of pus” so he was put on a ventilator and was in an induced coma for over a week.
He’s also had to “learn to walk again” and is slowly making a full recovery – Lorna said the family are “so lucky to still have him”.
Lorna said: “Alfie got sick while I was in hospital and when I found out I just couldn’t believe it.”
“I think my sepsis made it clear to Alfie’s mother that he had more than just a cold and chickenpox.
“We’re both so happy to still be here and that Alfie can walk around and be energetic again.”
On July 4, 2022, Lorna broke her arm after slipping on her dog’s tennis ball and eventually required a shoulder replacement.
On the day of the operation, 30 September 2022, at Inverclyde Royal Hospital, Greenock, she began to “feel unwell” but blamed it on her nerves.
She said: “I told the doctors and they tested me for Covid but I was negative and after a few more tests they thought one of my organs might be infected.”
“They initially thought it was my heart, but they couldn’t figure out which organ it was.
“The biochemist figured out what antibiotic would do best to kill the infection, so I was put on that right away.”
Lorna stayed in hospital for nine days, seven of them in intensive care.
She said: “They thought it was my kidneys so they tried to get them working again.”
“In hindsight, it was terrifying, but I didn’t realize at the time how serious it was.
“I was a strange color, the color of stone, and I was all spotty.
“Doctors said if they had discovered it much later, or if I hadn’t been in the hospital, I would have been dead.”
Four weeks later, Lorna was admitted to intensive care again after her GP found she had extremely low blood pressure and heart rate.
She said: “I was so confused – when family members came to see me I would ask them to leave because I was hallucinating and didn’t want them to see me like that.”
“I thought there was a lock outside the hospital – I thought I saw it outside my window and I remember thinking we had to go there as soon as I got out of the hospital.”
It has since taken Lorna 11 months to “get back to normal” and get her blood pressure back to normal.
She said: “I still have problems with my liver but now I’m just tired. It really got me down. I can only take the dog so far, I’m just so tired all the time.”
While Lorna was in the hospital, Alfie’s mother informed her that he was not well.
Stephanie didn’t want to worry Lorna when she was already ill, but it turned out that Alfie, who was three at the time, was also suffering from sepsis.
Lorna said: “He came home from kindergarten with chickenpox and also had a mild cold.”
“Then it only got worse – he was in terrible pain in his back and I think Stephanie had just listened to what I had said about my symptoms and subconsciously realized that he might be worse off than he seemed. “
“They called the paramedics and that night he was a lot worse – when they got to the emergency room, she took him to the desk and said, ‘We’re going to have a dead kid if we don’t do anything.’ “
Within half an hour, Alfie was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit at Glasgow Children’s Hospital and doctors soon discovered his lungs were “full of pus” and that he was suffering from sepsis, which had turned into Strep A.
So Alfie was put on a ventilator and was in an induced coma for over a week.
Lorna said: “He had to learn to walk again – he was so weak after he woke up.”
“Doctors made it clear to Alfie’s family that it was indeed life-threatening and that he was very lucky to be alive.
“His legs were so weak – he hadn’t eaten much even though he was ill.”
After being put on antibiotics and in an induced coma, Alfie is now “running around”.
Lorna said: “I had a good life with me, but it was so unfair to think that little Alfie could have died – he had no life yet.”
“We are just very lucky to still have him with us.
“This whole experience made me appreciate everything – when I walk the dog, I sit on the bench and enjoy the beautiful scenery.”
“I’ve treated every day since Alfie and got better as a bonus day in my life.”
We pay for your stories and videos! Do you have a story or video for The Scottish Sun? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0141 420 5200