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Home / Latest News / Dad-of-one dies of sepsis days before his wedding anniversary

Dad-of-one dies of sepsis days before his wedding anniversary

He went to hospital with stomach pains, just days before his wedding anniversary.

And just 72 hours later, 41-year-old Mark Canning had died, leaving behind his devastated wife and their four-year-old daughter.

A year after his brother’s death, Terence Canning, 40, is campaigning to stop other people dying from sepsis – a disease which is “entirely preventable and treatable”, yet kills 37,000 people in the UK every year.

Terence, who lives in Llandaff North, Cardiff, said his brother’s death on June 2 last year had been a “massive shock”.

“I saw him the day before he went into hospital and he did not look like someone who would be on life support 24 hours later,” he said.

Mark, who was born and raised in Llandaff North and went to Bishop Hannon RC High School, had been suffering from sickness and diarrhoea, but was told he had gastric flu and advised to take paracetamol.

When his stomach pains worsened, he went to accident and emergency and was tested for gall stones, but went into septic shock and was put on life support within hours of arriving at hospital. His organs started to fail and he died within 72 hours.

Terence said he was satisfied medical staff did all they could, but believes his brother could have been treated if his symptoms had been recognised earlier.

He said: “By the time he got to the hospital, it was at quite an advanced stage and they were not able to save him. He can’t be blamed, but if my brother had known more about the illness, he might have got the treatment he needed in time.”

Terence explained the family has struggled to come to terms with their loss. Last week, he accompanied his sister-in-law Manuela Sforza[corr], 35, to daughter Sophie’s school play.

He said: “My brother missed his daughter’s fourth birthday and her first day at school and all because of a lack of knowledge about the illness. Now it’s me who is going in his place.”

Manuela, who met Mark at work 10 years ago, said: “He was a real family man, a devoted husband and father, and his mission in life was to make me and Sophie happy and to keep us safe.

She added: “All our plans and dreams were shattered when he died. Our present and future were suddenly and abruptly taken away from us and I felt so very lost without him. All because of an illness that could have been stopped with more awareness.

“I just really wanted to know how, all of a sudden, I found myself as a 35-year-old widow and how I was going to tell my daughter her daddy would never come back. I was devastated and terrified about our future without Mark.”

Terence, who moved back to Llandaff North from London following his brother’s death, is now a trustee and director of professional and public engagement with the UK Sepsis Trust. He said there are many misconceptions about the condition.

“I had never really heard of it before. I thought septicaemia was something old people died of when they were already in hospital, but my brother was fit and healthy,” he said.

He added Mark, who worked in IT for London-based law firm Clifford Chance, had recently completed a gym-based triathlon.

Terence, who is campaigning to raise awareness about the condition, said: “People do not need to die from sepsis. It is preventable and treatable with timely intervention and if you catch it early, it is no worse than a common cold.”

He has organised several fundraising events in his brother’s memory and will run the Cardiff Half Marathon in the autumn, following World Sepsis Day on September 13.

Chair of the UK Sepsis Trust Ron Daniels said: “Sepsis can affect anyone, from a young person with a cut on their finger to an old person with pneumonia.

“When it strikes someone in the prime of their life, it can be frighteningly quick and people can go from being well to being critically ill, so we must be very vigilant.”

Sepsis claims more than 37,000 lives in the UK every year – more than breast cancer and bowel cancer combined.

It is a life-threatening illness, caused by the body overreacting to an infection.

The body’s immune system goes into overdrive, setting off a series of reactions that can lead to widespread swelling and blood clotting.

Symptoms usually develop quickly and include a fever or high temperature (over 38C), chills, a fast heartbeat and fast breathing.

In severe cases, symptoms can also include dizziness, confusion or disorientation, nausea and vomiting.

If it is not treated, sepsis can progress from uncomplicated sepsis to septic shock and can eventually lead to multiple organ failure and death.

For more information, visit www.sepsistrust.org or contact Terence on Twitter @TCTRON

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