23-Year-Old Woman Complained Of Flu-Like Symptoms And Lost Her Life To Sepsis A Few Days Later. Her Family Raises Awareness

Lifestyle & Health

July 11, 2019 13:21 By Fabiosa

Jessica Holbrook, a 23-year-old from Barnsley, Yorkshire, wasn’t feeling well. On December 9, 2017, she saw her GP, complaining of flu-like symptoms. At that point, both Jessica and her doctor thought nothing of it.

A few days later, Jessica was still unwell. On December 13, she called in sick, which was unusual for her.

READ ALSO: 4-Year-Old Welsh Girl Developed A Foot Infection And Life-Threatening Sepsis After Shoe Shopping, Her Mom Says

Over the night, the young woman’s condition spiraled. She was staying at her grandma’s, who called the ambulance in the morning. Unfortunately, Jessica was pronounced dead.

Her grandmother recalled:

During the night Jessica was restless and struggled to sleep.

At first she said she was tired and cold, but then was really hot and sweaty. Later that morning she was sick and so we phoned an ambulance.

By this point it was just manic and all a blur. The paramedics who arrived were Jessica's friends. They did everything they could but she didn't make it.

Painfully ironic is the fact that paramedics who responded to the call were Jessica’s friends and colleagues, as Jessica herself was an aspiring paramedic.

Her family was absolutely devastated when she died, and now their goal is to prevent more sepsis deaths by educating others. Jessica’s dad, Leigh Holbrook, said:

Whilst nothing can bring her back, all we can hope for now is that others recognise the symptoms of sepsis before it's too late.

If by raising awareness of how dangerous sepsis can we save a life then Jessica's death may not have been in vain.

READ ALSO: Young Mom Who Nearly Died Of Sepsis A Week After Giving Birth Warns Other Moms About Worrying Symptoms

Is sepsis common?

Sepsis is quite common and, unfortunately, often deadly. According to the World Health Organization, it’s estimated that more than 30 million people around the world develop sepsis every year. Of those 30 million, 6 million don’t survive.

It’s estimated that 44,000 people die from sepsis every year in the UK, according to the UK Sepsis Trust.

For the United States, the figure is just as terrifying. Sepsis claims nearly 270,000 lives every year in the U.S., according to the CDC.

23-Year-Old Woman Complained Of Flu-Like Symptoms And Lost Her Life To Sepsis A Few Days Later. Her Family Raises AwarenessKateryna Kon / Shutterstock.com

What are the signs and symptoms of sepsis?

Sepsis is notoriously difficult to diagnose early, as its first signs are often non-specific and it can progress rapidly. It may develop in someone with an active infection, which may or may not be diagnosed.

According to Mayo Clinic, the early stage of sepsis presents with the following:

  1. Body temperature higher or lower than normal – above 101 F (38.3 C) or below 96.8 F (36 C).
  2. Fast heart rate (over 90 beats per minute).
  3. Fast breathing (over 20 breaths per minute).

23-Year-Old Woman Complained Of Flu-Like Symptoms And Lost Her Life To Sepsis A Few Days Later. Her Family Raises Awareness

Sepsis has progressed to severe sepsis if the following signs and symptoms are present:

  1. Absent or significantly decreased urination.
  2. Abrupt changes in mental status, such as sudden confusion.
  3. Trouble breathing.
  4. Abnormal heart pumping function.
  5. Abdominal pain.

23-Year-Old Woman Complained Of Flu-Like Symptoms And Lost Her Life To Sepsis A Few Days Later. Her Family Raises Awarenesssirtravelalot / Shutterstock.com

Severe sepsis can spiral into septic shock, which produces the same symptoms as those of severe sepsis and abnormally low blood pressure that can’t be stabilized with fluid replacement. Septic shock is often fatal.

If you suspect that you or your loved one may have sepsis, seek medical help immediately. It may turn out to be something else, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.

READ ALSO: 8 Warning Symptoms Of Sepsis, And Who Is At Risk Of This Dangerous Condition


This article is solely for informational purposes. Do not self-diagnose or self-medicate, and in all cases consult a certified healthcare professional before using any information presented in the article. The editorial board does not guarantee any results and does not bear any responsibility for any harm that may result from using the information provided in the article.