Beds, Herts & Bucks

High Wycombe teenager died of sepsis 'after bad cold'

Oliver Darlington Image copyright Family handout
Image caption Oliver Darlington had been on a family holiday in New York over Christmas

The family of a boy who died of sepsis after a heavy cold have called for greater awareness of the condition.

Oliver Darlington, 13, suffered a cardiac arrest on New Year's Eve, the day after he had been "running around" on a holiday with his family.

The teenager, from High Wycombe in Buckinghamshire, was placed on life support and died on 3 January.

His mother Rachel Flynn said Oliver had not shown all the symptoms and only developed a telltale rash in hospital.

"I think this story touches people - Oliver being a teenager, how quick it was, and we were running around New York the day before," she said.

"It is one of the biggest killers out there and it's not talked about enough."

Image copyright Family handout
Image caption Oliver was a keen footballer with Downley Dynamos and a fan of Wycombe Wanderers

Oliver's heavy cold was of no real concern during a family break in New York over Christmas and he went to stay with his father and stepmother on his return to the UK on 30 December.

"In the early hours he woke up being ill, and instinctively within a few minutes we could tell something was going on," said his dad Tom Darlington.

He was taken by ambulance to Stoke Mandeville Hospital, where he went into cardiac arrest and was placed in intensive care.

Later that day he was transferred to Southampton, one of a few hospitals in England with a life-support system called a Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO) machine.

"He rallied a bit and with the great work the doctors and nurses did he fought on for three more days, before finally succumbing to the damage it had done to him," said Mr Darlington.

A fundraising page in memory of Oliver and for UK Sepsis Trust has so far raised more than £9,000.

What are the symptoms of sepsis?

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Media captionSepsis: What is it - and how to spot it?

In adults:

  • Slurred speech
  • Extreme shivering or muscle pain
  • Passing no urine in a day
  • Severe breathlessness
  • High heart rate and high or low body temperature
  • Skin mottled or discoloured

In children:

  • A mottled, bluish or pale appearance
  • Very lethargic or difficult to wake
  • Abnormally cold to touch
  • Breathing very fast
  • A rash that does not fade when you press it
  • A seizure or convulsion

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