Local mom beats sepsis twice, wants to save others

PADUCAH – She lost her uncle and her friend to sepsis after she beat it twice. Now Kayla Irick is speaking out to try to save others’ lives.

Sepsis is most commonly known for how deadly it can be for hospital patients, but anyone with an infection is at risk.

Irick has a notebook of memories, but not the good kind. “I feel like I am choking,” she read from her notebook.

These notes are from when she was on life support. Some of the notes make sense. Some don’t.

“At the age of 22, I almost had a cardiac arrest due to infection spreading through my body,” Irick said. It started with a kidney stone that needed to be removed.

By the time doctors got it out, her body was in septic shock. “I had a temperature of 108 degrees. I was woken (up) by having ice poured on my body,” she said. “I could hear the nurses saying my stats. My (blood pressure) was 60 over 20. Pulse was 199.”

She had sepsis. It’s a life threatening response your body has due to an infection. “It typically starts with a common infection, maybe someone has pneumonia or a urinary track infection, and for some reason your body – instead of fighting the infection – will turn on itself and start fighting itself,” said Tammy Brown.

She works at Baptist Health. She teaches staff at the hospital how to recognize sepsis sooner. “Some patients get to us very late so it gets to the point that everything we are trying to do, sometimes it is not enough.”

In Irick’s case, she was almost too late. “As time went on, my body organs started to fail,” said Irick. “My bowels stopped working. My kidneys stopped.”

“Nobody knew if I was going to make it through that.” She did though.

Then three years later, she got sepsis again, but this time she knew what to look for. “The earlier you catch it, the better off you are,” Irick said.

She’s not alone. Every two minutes, one person in the United States dies from sepsis. That statistic is from Sepsis Alliance.

Irick is hoping her experience will help someone else before it’s too late.

Symptoms of sepsis include already having a serious infection, fever, shortness of breath, fast heart rate, and confusion. If you are being treated for an infection and you start to feel worse, it is important you see a doctor immediately.

September is Sepsis Awareness Month.

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