Rory Staunton (12) fell while diving for a basketball during a game at his private school in New York in April 2012.
The seemingly innocuous cut was covered up with plasters by a teacher at the time – but four days later, Rory died of severe septic shock.Following his tragic death, Rory’s parents Orlaith and Ciaran, who are originally from Co Louth, established the Rory Staunton Foundation.
Their aim was to raise awareness about – and encourage the introduction of protocols around – identifying and treating sepsis so that other parents wouldn’t suffer as they did.On January 29, 2013, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that all hospitals in New York State would be required to adopt evidence-based protocols, known as Rory’s Regulations, for the early diagnosis and treatment of sepsis.
Ciaran Staunton and his son Rory Staunton who tragically died in America
According to a recent New York State report into how hospital performance has improved since the introduction of the ‘Sepsis Care Improvement Initiative’, more people with sepsis are being identified and treated earlier – and fewer people are dying. “Despite the early nature of this initiative we can demonstrate encouraging improvements,” the report said.
Sepsis mortality figures in New York from the beginning of 2011 through the end of 2015 – the regulations took effect in 2014 – indicated that 4,727 fewer people died from it, according to the report. Ciaran Staunton said that he is satisfied that the need for regulations himself and his wife spoke about following their son’s death have been adopted by hospitals in New York – and that their efforts are paying off.
“We have met the people that have been saved by these protocols,” he told independent.ie.”We are happy that their parents are not joining us in this miserable life. We want that fighting chance extended to every family in America”.
Orlaith Staunton and Rory
Sepsis, which is the leading cause of death in hospitals, is a life-threatening condition triggered when the body’s immune system goes into overdrive to fight an infection. The condition is often undiagnosed and untreated because doctors and those affected fail to recognise the symptoms.
Mr Staunton said that, while he is happy that awareness around sepsis is gathering momentum, he is determined to have this regulation in all states in the US by 2020. “When our son died, there was no awareness, no sepsis protocols, nothing in the A-Z book on sepsis,” he said.
“Now we’ve shown here’s what we can do in New York – we want the US Government to have the same level of anxiety and awareness of sepsis as they do Ebola.”More than a million Americans are struck with severe sepsis every year, with an estimated 28pc to 50pc of those dying from it, according to the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS). However, Mr Staunton believes that fewer than half of all Americans have ever heard of sepsis.
“We’re not looking for a cure for sepsis, we’re looking for awareness,” he said. “Our foundation looks to change that and to reflect how everyone affected in America is being treated”.