Horror disease: ‘I had no idea what it was’

LIKE most toddlers, Carrie Giles had just mastered walking. She went from a wobbly stagger to a determined stride over just a few weeks.

But tragically the 21-month-old Queensland girl will one day have to learn to walk again. A simple persistent cough has lead her into the fight of her life and she has lost her leg above the knee.

Sepsis the silent killer that can take the life from a child in a matter of days invaded the Kallangur tot's body. The deadly signs were all over her skin. She was mottled in horrific purple rashes and her leg was the most infected. The disease shut down her kidneys and she was forced to go on dialysis.

"We went from a cough, to pneumonia, to Carrie being in PICU and a doctor shouting out, 'Sepsis babies can die,' " mother Liz told The Courier-Mail.

"What a nightmare.

"I had no idea what sepsis was, but there I was seeing the devastation it can bring first-hand.

"When they said she would have to lose her leg to try to help her kidneys recover I was in shock, dumbfounded."


Carrie Giles
Carrie Giles


Carrie was a healthy, happy tot just five weeks ago.

Liz said she was a lively, loving child with a serious case of FOMO.

Her parents took her to the doctor with a cough and she was given some Nurofen.

"But at home she was lethargic and out of it, something was off," Liz said.

"We took her to another doctor who said she had pneumonia and she was admitted to Redcliffe Hospital.

"From there she was sent to the Queensland Children's Hospital by ambulance. She went into cardiac arrest twice.

"Carrie has been in intensive care there ever since.

"I wish we had known it was sepsis earlier but as soon as we got to QCH that was the word I heard a lot.

"I got a quick education.

"Carrie is starting to show signs of improvement and our dream is to have her home for Christmas."

QCH runs the the Queensland Paediatric Sepsis Pathway, a screening tool for the early recognition and treatment of paediatric sepsis in a time-critical emergency.


Carrie in paediatric intensive care
Carrie in paediatric intensive care


Amanda Harley, 30, Australia's first dedicated paediatric sepsis clinical nurse consultant, works at the hospital

"We are doing what we can to educate parents," she said.

"It is not easy to detect sepsis early on.

"My advice to parents is that if the child seems different to how they usually are when sick then get them checked.

"Go with the gut and don't be scared to ask, could it be sepsis?"

There are 5000 sepsis deaths in Australia each year, of which at least 50 are children.

More than 100 others are admitted to intensive care in Queensland each year. One-third who survive have lifelong problems.

To help in Carrie's recovery go to https://www.gofundme.com/f/un2n4e-carries-fight