I cannot imagine the unbearable pain of having your child taken from you by a disease that could have been prevented.
This however, is exactly what happened to the Straker family when they lost their 19-year-old daughter, Emma, to sepsis early in October 2013. Emma tragically passed away in her sleep after coming down with what she thought was a simple cold. After sending her mum a text and having a quick chat on the phone with her dad, she fell asleep and never woke up.
Emma was a vibrant, beautiful girl with her whole life ahead of her. She was at university, making all her dreams come true. What happened to Emma is the stuff of nightmares.
I was so moved by this family's story that I decided to look into sepsis a bit more. I was staggered to discover that this condition kills around 37,000 people in the UK every year. Someone globally dies from sepsis every three and a half seconds and yet the Strakers, like me, had never heard of the condition before the death of their daughter. They are not an exception. According to the UK Sepsis Trust (UKST), only 40% of the UK has heard of sepsis, and very few know that it can be fatal.
All this inspired me to write a book in the hope of making sepsis a household word, and I felt so strongly about it that I decided to give all the proceeds to the UK Sepsis Trust.
My tenth novel, Three-and-a-half Heartbeats, tells the story of Grace and Tom Penderford who are a normal, happy family, living in a lovely home with a beautiful little girl, Chloe…that is until sepsis sneaks up on them and claims her life, leaving them devastated. As they come to terms with their loss, Grace and Tom battle to try to save their marriage and mend each other's broken hearts.
"Neither could have envisaged an event so catastrophic, so cataclysmic that it would render them silent, isolated and ruined. It was as if a large bomb had fallen on top of them and all that was left was a huge crater over what used to exist with a few fragmented pieces that were vaguely recognisable from their previous life poking out to taunt them, but that was exactly what had happened. They were completely and utterly destroyed."
The Strakers have lived through what can happen when sepsis is not recognised, and as they still struggle to come to terms with the loss of their own daughter, it is vital that we raise awareness of this potentially life-threatening condition. We want people to start talking sepsis; we want everyone to know what to look for and we want to raise as much money as possible, so we can start spreading the word.
The UK Sepsis Trust is raising money to combat the condition. Best-selling novelist Amanda Prowse is donating all the proceeds from her tenth e-book, "Three-and-a-Half Heartbeats", to the charity. It costs just £1.89 and a copy of the book, which launches on September 10, can be pre-ordered here.