Scottish dad nearly died after doctors said his sepsis was a virus

The father-of-two who nearly died after developing sepsis. Pic: PA
The father-of-two who nearly died after developing sepsis. Pic: PA
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A father-of-two who nearly died after developing sepsis believes his condition could have been caught sooner using a rapid test, which experts hope will soon be available on the NHS.

Ryan Sutherland, from Clackmannanshire, suffered two cardiac arrests and spent more than a week in a coma, days after being told his persistent sore throat was the result of a viral infection.

Dr Damion Corrigan with the microelectrode biosensor device.

Dr Damion Corrigan with the microelectrode biosensor device.

The 33-year-old said the new sepsis test, which can give a result in just three minutes, could have made “all the difference” for his family.

Mr Sutherland, who has two young daughters, visited his GP in November 2015 after developing a sore throat but was told he had a virus and sent home with no 
treatment.

“As the week went on, it got worse and by the Thursday it was really bad,” Mr Sutherland said.

“My wife took me to the out-of-hours doctor that night and by this point I was really unwell and could barely move.

“But I was given an anti-sickness injection and then I was sent home.”

He later collapsed and was rushed to hospital.

When wife Melanie, 29, arrived just 20 minutes later, Mr Sutherland had suffered two cardiac arrests and was in intensive care.

She was told her husband had gone into septic shock and was critically ill.

“His body was starting to shut down. It was terrifying. They told me he may not last the night,” she said.

Mr Sutherland spent eight days in a coma before waking up.

He had lost three stone in weight and was so weak he initially struggled to walk.

The couple said a new rapid sepsis test, developed by researchers at the University of Strathclyde, could have saved them from the ordeal.

“We know we’re lucky because other people who’ve had sepsis as bad as Ryan’s have died or have lost limbs,” Mrs Sutherland said.

“If this test had been available it could have made a huge difference to us.”

At present, it can take up to 72 hours to diagnose sepsis, which kills an estimated 52,000 people in the UK every year.

Mr Sutherland said: “No one mentioned sepsis although, looking back, I had all the symptoms.

“It’s hard to diagnose, so if this test had been around it could have made all the difference to what happened with me.”

The new test, which can give a result within three minutes be available on the NHS within three to five years.

Experts hope the test will be used at the bedside in hospitals and in GP surgeries.

Its needle shape means it can also be implanted and used on patients in intensive care.

Dr Damion Corrigan, from the department of biomedical engineering at Strathclyde, said: “With sepsis, the timing is key. For every hour that you delay antibiotic treatment, the likelihood of death increases.

“If GP surgeries had access they could also do tests which could potentially save lives.”

newsen@edinburghnews.com