An emotional Holly Willoughby broke down as she listened to one mother’s story about the death of her son.
Melissa Mead, who lost her son William to sepsis in 2014, appeared on This Morning to raise awareness of the condition, and reduced mum-of-three Holly to tears as she shared her heartbreaking experience.
The segment opened with a clip of Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt attending a recent memorial for William, in which he publicly apologised for the fact that medical professionals had failed to spot William’s symptoms four times, and admitted that both the NHS and the government had ‘let him down’.
William was suffering from sepsis caused by an underlying chest infection and pneumonia, but despite repeated trips to see doctors and out-of-hours services, plus a call to a 111 handler, the professionals did not recognise his symptoms.
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‘Two days before he died he went to an emergency doctor, and was sent home,’ Melissa said. ‘In the 36 hours before he died we spoke to two doctors and the 111 service and they all told us it was non urgent. The last doctor told us to leave him in bed, and I went in to check on him and he’d passed away.’
She added that she’d never even heard of sepsis before William’s death, saying: ‘When the report said he’d died of sepsis, I said “oh that must be rare”. Then we took to Google and found out that it was the UK’s second biggest killer.’
A visibly emotional Holly told the bereaved parent that she ‘couldn’t even imagine’ what she had gone through, as Melissa continued to explain what parents and healthcare experts should be looking out for.
‘William’s symptoms were no urine output, high temp but also a very low temperature, vomiting, floppiness, there can be a rash,’ she listed. ‘But I’m not a physician, so I’d advise you to go on the NHS website or the Sepsis Trust’ – the charity for which she has since become a project manager.
Melissa’s campaign to increase knowledge of the symptoms of sepsis has already been incredibly successful, with leaflets about the condition being put into the Bounty packs given to new parents and handed out in GP’s surgeries, but she says there is still more to do.
‘I’m blessed that he picked me to be his mum, I’m incredibly proud of what’s been achieved in his name, it’s not me that’s done that, it’s him. The impact he’s had in his short life is more than I could ever achieve in the lifetime,’ she concluded.
When Phillip Schofield assured her that ‘You and William will save so many lives’, she agreed: ‘That’s all we hope for. If it’s one life saved then it’s one life more.’