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Melissa Mead in NHS campaign to raise sepsis awareness after young son's death

A mum who worked tirelessly to raise sepsis awareness after losing her son to the condition has seen her efforts come to fruition.

William Mead died just days after his first birthday in December 2014 after medics failed to spot his illness.

Two years on and after months of campaigning, his mother, Melissa, is heading a new awareness drive being launched by Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt.

Parents are now being helped by the NHS to spot the signs of the "devastating" condition, which causes around 37,000 deaths each year in England.

Since her son's death, Mrs Mead had repeatedly called on the NHS to raise awareness about sepsis.

Arguing that her son could have been saved with correct advice, Mrs Mead secured a meeting with Mr Hunt earlier this year.

Mrs Mead is now set to appear in a new film which forms part of the campaign.

A UK Sepsis Trust ambassador, she said: "I will never hear my sweet child say 'Mummy I love you'.

"I will never know the man that William would have grown to be.

"So please, it is too late for me to 'think sepsis', but it's not too late for you."

Sepsis is a cruel, ruthless condition which doesn't discriminate and can affect anyone.

I hope this campaign reaches as many people as possible, so all parents out there know about sepsis and how serious it can be.

The more parents know, the quicker they can act if they suspect their child may be suffering from sepsis - it could be life-saving.

– Melissa Mead
Melissa Mead will appear in a new film which forms part of the campaign. Credit: Jonathan Brady / PA

Earlier this year, Mrs Mead and her husband Paul named their second son Arthur William Mead in his older brother's memory.

Following their meeting, Mr Hunt praised Mrs Mead and other "families who have tragically lost children to sepsis" for their help with the campaign.

The campaign, delivered by Public Health England and the UK Sepsis Trust, is part of a series of measures to tackle the condition, which arises as a complication of an infection.

Parents and carers of newborns to four-year-old children are being particularly targeted.

Millions of leaflets urging parents to take their child to A&E or call 999 if their child is displaying symptoms will be delivered to GP surgeries and hospitals across the country.

Parents should take immediate action if their child looks mottled, bluish or pale, appears lethargic or difficult to wake, is abnormally cold to touch, is breathing rapidly, has a rash that does not fade when pressed or has a fit or convulsion.

Early symptoms of sepsis usually develop quickly and can include:

  • high temperature (fever)
  • chills and shivering
  • a fast heartbeat
  • fast breathing

Symptoms of more severe sepsis can include:

  • feeling dizzy or faint
  • confusion or disorientation
  • nausea and vomiting
  • diarrhoea
  • not passing water for prolonged periods
  • cold, clammy and pale or mottled skin