Devastated Leeds family share sepsis warning after much-loved dad ‘killed in hours’

Stephen Ewen, 62, of Cookridge, who died of sepsis in 2017.
Stephen Ewen, 62, of Cookridge, who died of sepsis in 2017.
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A devastated daughter has warned of the dangers of a killer disease which claimed the life of her much-loved father in a matter of hours.

Caroline Marsh, 31, lost her dad Stephen Ewen, 62, to a deadly sepsis infection which spread through his body while he was in hospital with pneumonia.

16 March 2018......  Matthew and Caroline with their daughter Rosie and Eva.'Caroline Marsh, 31, wants to raise awareness of the symptoms and dangers of killer disease sepsis, which claimed the life of her father Stephen Ewen, 62, in a matter of hours last year. Her husband Matthew, 35, is to run the 100km Leeds Country Way Trail on March 24 for the UK Sepsis Trust. Picture Tony Johnson.

16 March 2018...... Matthew and Caroline with their daughter Rosie and Eva.'Caroline Marsh, 31, wants to raise awareness of the symptoms and dangers of killer disease sepsis, which claimed the life of her father Stephen Ewen, 62, in a matter of hours last year. Her husband Matthew, 35, is to run the 100km Leeds Country Way Trail on March 24 for the UK Sepsis Trust. Picture Tony Johnson.

The grandad-of-six had sent a text to his wife Jane telling her of his pneumonia diagnosis just two hours before his body succumbed to septic shock and his organs started shutting down.

Doctors were forced to put Stephen into a medically-induced coma but he died later that day, on March 7 last year, surrounded by his family.

Caroline, a mum-of-two from Horsforth, said they are still recovering from the shock of his sudden death, which had left a “massive hole” in their lives.

“It was a huge shock. Unbearable really, for the first few months, even the first year. It’s been really hard. Up until then he had never had a day off sick. In our eyes he was the fittest and healthiest person. He was never one to get ill.”

She added: “He was going to retire in the April so (this happened) literally two or three weeks before he was meant to retire.”

Stephen, an electrical engineer, and his wife Jane had returned from a holiday in Gran Canaria a week earlier and despite a couple of chest infections during the months prior, he had told his family he felt ‘back to 100 per cent’.

But pains in his shoulder got worse throughout Monday March 6 and he and Jane went to St James’ Hospital that evening. Caroline said her mum briefly returned home at 5am to gather provisions and was texted by her dad at about 8.30am saying doctors had diagnosed pneumonia and he would be in hospital for five days.

She said: “But at about 10.30am she had a call from the hospital to say she needs to come back down there and bring the family as he’s unlikely to survive.

“He died at 4.45pm that 
day. Literally just a few hours later.

“He had gone into septic shock and there was nothing they could do.”

Sepsis is a life-threatening condition caused when the body’s response to an infection damages its own tissues and organs. In the UK, it claims the lives of 44,000 people each year.

Caroline said: “The hospital did everything they could and they were brilliant with dad and acted very quickly.

“But by the time mum got there he was in unbearable pain, he wanted to be put to sleep. They got to say their goodbyes to each other which was awful. I wasn’t there for that - I didn’t get there in time. But she said he was in so much pain.”

She added: “Since it happened, you hear more and more about people dying from it but it feels like it’s gone unnoticed. It’s such a huge killer.”

Caroline’s husband Matthew is now planning an incredible fundraising feat to raise money and awareness for The UK Sepsis Trust. The 35-year-old aims to run the 100km Leeds Country Way trail in under 12 hours on March 24, in memory of his father-in-law, who lived in Cookridge.

Caroline said: “Dad was a Leeds lad so it felt quite fitting to do the Leeds Country Way, as when you’re on it, you’re always seven miles from the city centre. It felt a good one to do and it will be a really challenge to do it under 12 hours.”

To sponsor Matthew, visit https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/matthewmarsh100km.

Caroline’s brothers, Mark, 37, and Richard, 35, will be running the Liverpool Half Marathon the next day, March 25, also for The UK Sepsis Trust.

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