2nd WSC – The Most Important Sepsis Research in 2017/2018 (Session 17)

‘The Most Important Sepsis Research in 2017/2018’ - Session 17 from the 2nd World Sepsis Congress - is now available on YouTube (embedded above) and as a Podcast on Apple Podcasts (iTunes link).
It is chaired by Phillip Dellinger from the US and features the following presentations and speakers:

  • Transfusion and Treatment of Severe Anemia in African Children – Kathryn Maitland

  • Alveolar Recruitment for ARDS: The ART Trial – Alexandre Cavalcanti

  • Procalcitonin Antibiotic Consensus Trial (ProACT) – David Huang

  • REMAP CAP – A Platform Trial That Studies Multiple Interventions – Derek Angus

  • Adjunctive Corticosteroids – The ADRENAL Trial – Balasubramanian Venkatesh

  • Making Sense of the Steroid Trials – Simon Finfer

  • The Need for Clinical Sepsis Research in LMICs – Jason Phua

This was the last session of the 2nd World Sepsis Congress - all sessions and presentations are now available on our YouTube Channel, Apple Podcasts, and the congress website.

The 3rd World Sepsis Congress will return in 2020. In the fall of 2019, we will host the WSC Spotlight, shining a spotlight on one particular aspect of sepsis - stay tuned to the GSA or WSD website to learn more…

The 2nd WSC was brought to you free of charge by the Global Sepsis Alliance, fostering our aspiration to bring knowledge about sepsis to all parts of the world. If you enjoyed it or learned something, please consider donating to our cause.

Marvin Zick
Last Chance to Order Printed Copies of the 2018 WSD Event Poster

If you have not yet ordered a printed copy of the 2018 World Sepsis Day Event Poster, please do so soon. Since the posters will be printed next week, the deadline to order a printed copy is Sunday, January 20th, 2019. Please think about the environment before ordering posters. If you need more than three, please understand that it is more efficient to print them yourself.

Up to three posters are shipped to you free of charge, as a token of our appreciation for your support of World Sepsis Day and the global fight against sepsis. After January 20th, the poster will of course remain available to download in both view and print versions.

The WSD Event Poster summarizes hundreds of activities and events that were held this World Sepsis Day to raise awareness for sepsis and is created annually by the Global Sepsis Alliance, initiator of World Sepsis Day, World Sepsis Congress, and more.

Marvin Zick
2nd WSC – Enhancing Recovery from Sepsis (Session 16)

‘Enhancing Recovery from Sepsis’ - Session 16 from the 2nd World Sepsis Congress - is now available on YouTube (embedded above) and as a Podcast on Apple Podcasts (iTunes link).
It is chaired by Ulf Bodechtel from Germany and features the following presentations and speakers:

  • The Patient Perspective – Dennis Kredler

  • Functional Disability after Sepsis – Theodore ‘Jack’ Iwashyna

  • Lessons from Studying Long-Term Outcomes of ARDS – Margaret Herridge

  • Role of Post ICU Clinics – James Jackson

  • Prevention of Post-Sepsis Consequences – Wesley Ely

  • Strategies for Enhancing Recovery – What Works? – Hallie Prescott

Sessions are released weekly on Thursdays. The next session will be ‘The Most Important Sepsis Research in 2017/2018’. It will be available on January 17th, 2019. Please head over to the 2nd WSC website for the full release schedule.

The 2nd WSC is brought to you free of charge by the Global Sepsis Alliance, fostering our aspiration to bring knowledge about sepsis to all parts of the world. If you enjoyed it or learned something, please consider donating to our cause.

Marvin Zick
The Rusty Nail That Almost Killed Me

Three years ago, Michael Porter went into a coma and almost died. Now – with one arm less – he wants to educate the public about the dangers of sepsis.

After he scraped his hand against a nail while he was repairing his garden gate at his home in 2015, Michael Porter didn’t think much of it. Living just outside of Lancashire, England, the 45-year old university professor simply washed the bruise and stuck on a Band-Aid.

72 hours later, he was in a coma.

Michael had developed sepsis, an extreme illness and medical emergency in which the immune system ends up injuring its organs as it tries to fight an infection. It affects about 30 million people a year worldwide, killing almost a quarter of them, and leaving the rest with physical and mental scars.

Three months later, Michael woke up, but didn’t make it out of his coma intact. His arm had to be amputated, and he spent the better part of the next year fighting his way back to health.

What was ironic about Michael’s battle with sepsis is as a biology and genetics professor, he had lectured on the dangers of sepsis.

Now, three years later, his personal struggle with sepsis has transformed his understanding of the condition and how he approaches life itself. Folks spoke to him to learn more.


You contracted sepsis after you scraped your hand against a nail. Can you tell us more about what you were doing?

It was Christmas Eve, 2015 and I had some spare time and a chance to knock another job off my to-do list. The garden gate was not closing correctly, so I went out and spent an hour getting it fixed. It was the last DIY job I ever did with two hands.

I scraped my hand on a nail and got a minor cut which bled and was washed out but was really just a minor nick, that people working with their hands probably get on a daily basis.

What were you thinking as your condition worsened? Did you ever think you might have sepsis?

While I had taught people about sepsis in the past, I was cursed with the typical thought that ‘it only ever happens to other people’, but this time I was the other person. The onset of sepsis can be very rapid, in my case about 48 hours, and by the time my condition had got serious, it was moving very fast indeed. By that point, I wasn’t thinking clearly anymore. That’s why often the people who spot sepsis are the family or friends, not the patient. In my case, I owe my brother my life, because he spotted that it could be sepsis and the whole family rushed me to the ER.

I sometimes like to think of [sepsis] as a match being lit. There is a tiny spark at the type of the matchhead, which then spreads out getting faster and faster until the whole match is consumed.

The first sign was the muscle pain. I had a sore armpit that I put down to a new deodorant I’d used that morning. In reality, it was necrotising myositis: my muscle was literally dying and, as the muscle was breaking down, it was poisoning my body further.

As the sepsis progressed, I started showing more of the classic signs. I had extreme shivering, and stopped passing urine. My skin only became mottled and discolored in the hospital, but by then, I was more concerned about the confusion and extreme breathlessness. I really was dying.

It was months then before I re-emerged from my coma, at the end of March. In the meantime, my wife and family had been told that I probably wouldn’t make it past the first night. They had watched me be resuscitated several times because I was in multiple organ failure with artificial respiration and dialysis.

They said goodbye to my arm and gave permission for the amputation, not knowing if it would even save my life.

How did you feel when you first emerged from the coma? 

When I first emerged from the coma, I was very confused, but became very quickly aware of my missing arm, even though I could still feel it… and can, in fact, still feel it to this day.

Having been told that the amputation was life-saving, I thought: well, I’m alive and I’ll manage. I always work on the principle that what you can’t change, just accept and look to the positives.

There’s an expression: “I’d give my right arm for that.” Well, I gave my right arm for life. Seems like a fair exchange.

What was rehabilitation like? What was the hardest part?

Waking up from a 3-month long coma, I had lost 82 pounds in weight and had almost no muscle strength left. Even pressing the nurse call button was too much for me, at that time. From there I had to begin a long process of strengthening my muscles and re-learning to walk.

Walking was particularly difficult as I only had the one arm to support myself with and peripheral neuropathy meant that the sensations coming back from my feet and hands were confused or absent.

Amazing support from a range of physiotherapists allowed me to rehabilitate and begin to move and then walk again. Even to this day, however, peripheral neuropathy and muscle weakness continue to haunt me. Yet I still consider myself very lucky as amongst the 40% of people who have ongoing problems, as a result of sepsis, my problems are minimal in comparison.

Perhaps the hardest part of my rehabilitation was psychological, rather than physical. Losing a limb feels like a personal bereavement because, even excluding vanity, we all have an image of our self and this includes (for most people) 2 arms and 2 legs.

Being able to look at myself in a mirror, even with a shirt on, took a long time. It took even longer for me to be able to touch what was left of my arm. Thankfully the British National Health Service ensures that psychologists work hand-in-hand with physiotherapists and prosthetists to help people who have undergone amputation. They also help me with the PTSD which is commonly seen in sepsis survivors and their family.

You’re actually an expert on sepsis, can you tell us about how and why people develop the condition?

The important thing to remember is that sepsis is not caused by any one bacteria or virus. It’s an overreaction by the body to infection, which rapidly escalates. That’s why good stewardship of antibiotics is so important, as they are the primary treatment when sepsis is diagnosed. Without them, a very large proportion of the 30 million people who get sepsis annually, across the world, would die. As it is 6 million will die, with about a 1/3 of them being children. 40% of those who survive will still have ongoing problems, as a result of the condition.

Who will get it and when is still a mystery, which is why scientists like myself continue to work on this problem. There are suggestions that aspects such as vitamin D levels may have an impact, but this research is still at an early stage.

Unfortunately, while it may be possible to treat the original infection with antibiotics, there is no specific cure for sepsis” only the symptoms can be treated. New research, however, shows that metformin, a drug used to treat type 2 diabetes, can reduce the impact of sepsis by limiting the body’s immune reaction and protecting it from damage by free radicals (oxygen-rich molecules that can damage cells).

Other promising research suggests that gene therapy may prove important in tackling sepsis, by targeting a protein produced in the body called NF-kB, which malfunctions during sepsis. If successful, these and other treatments in development have the potential to save lives and reduce the long-term impact of the disease on survivors.

The latest research seems promising, but the greatest defenses we have again sepsis are remarkably simple. These include good infection control in hospitals, good handwashing habits, clean water, and safe childbirth. But the greatest defense is awareness, which is shockingly low across the world among medical professionals and the public alike.

Surveys suggest that only 40% of people in Australia have heard of sepsis and only one-third of this group are able to identify a single symptom. Figures are even lower in Brazil where only 14% of the public know what it is. And, although campaigning in the UK and Germany has created an awareness in over 60% of people, knowledge of the warning signs is still limited.

As you’d expect, awareness is higher among healthcare professionals – but there is a need for greater education within this group. A definite diagnosis is often difficult, and efforts are being made to establish clear guidance for healthcare workers across the world, including the roll-out of an internationally recognized protocol for the early identification of sepsis called Sepsis 6.

With time, scientific research may provide new treatments – but in the short term, greater awareness of the condition among the public and medical professionals is likely to have the biggest effect on saving lives and minimizing harm.

Do you think your personal experience with sepsis has impacted your professional work? In what way?

As both a sepsis survivor and an academic, what was just a topic of interest has become a real passion. Advancing sepsis research is very important to me, as well as educating the public, health professionals, medical students, and the scientists of tomorrow.

I spend a considerable amount of time talking to a range of audiences, the print media, and broadcast media in various countries to tell people about sepsis research and raise awareness of the condition.

Physically, I am still able to do the work of an academic and so I am in a fortunate position, which many people don’t share. I make good use of voice recognition software, and in the lab I also rely on a prosthetic arm, which returns a lot of my previous functionality.

When you lecture on sepsis, what is the most common question?

People are always very curious about sepsis, although the questions they ask are different depending on the audience. Scientists and health professionals tend to ask more specific questions about the condition and the research, but every group asks: “how was it for your family?” and “can you still feel your arm?”

The most difficult question to answer has always been: “If you could go back in time, would you rather you hadn’t lost your arm?” Obviously, I would love to have both arms, but being so close to death has given me a renewed zest for life and a determination not to waste any of it. My story has also potentially saved others from going through the same thing or even losing their lives. So, on balance, perhaps it has been worth it.

The article above was written by Benjamin Peim for Folks and is shared here with his/their explicit consent. The views in the article do not necessarily represent those of the Global Sepsis Alliance. They are not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The whole team here at the GSA and World Sepsis Day wishes to thank Michael Porter and Folks for sharing this story and for fighting to raise awareness of sepsis.

If you were touched by Michael’s story, please reach out to him on Twitter, check out Folks, or donate to World Sepsis Day. Thank you.

Marvin Zick
2nd WSC – Improving Awareness: National and Global Strategies (Session 15)

‘Improving Awareness: National and Global Strategies’ - Session 15 from the 2nd World Sepsis Congress - is now available to recap on YouTube (embedded above) and as a Podcast on Apple Podcasts (iTunes link).
It is chaired by Janice Zimmerman from the US and features the following presentations and speakers:

  • Keynote: WHO Hand Hygiene Campaign – Why It Is So Successful - Didier Pittet

  • Improving Sepsis Education in Turkey - Necmettin Unal

  • The CDC’s Sepsis Activities - Denise Cardo

  • Success Factors to Achieve Mandatory Sepsis Protocols - Ciaran Staunton

  • Raising Awareness – Success in the UK - Ron Daniels

  • Strategy and Achievements in Brazil - Luciano Azevedo

  • Challenges to Increase Sepsis Awareness in Africa - Emmanuel Nsutebu

Sessions are released weekly on Thursdays. The next session will be ‘Enhancing Recovery from Sepsis’. It will be available on January 10th, 2019. Please head over to the 2nd WSC website for the full release schedule.

The 2nd WSC is brought to you free of charge by the Global Sepsis Alliance, fostering our aspiration to bring knowledge about sepsis to all parts of the world. If you enjoyed it or learned something, please consider donating to our cause.

Marvin Zick
Happy New Year – Toolkits Ready for 2019
NewYear Banner.jpg

From the whole team here at the Global Sepsis Alliance, we would like to wish all of you a happy new year – much success, happiness, and health to you and your loved ones.

We are very confident that 2019 will be another landmark year for sepsis awareness, and are already eager to connect with you at the next WSD Supporter Meeting in Brussels in March, excited for the World Sepsis Congress Spotlight in the fall, as well as very much looking forward to many creative and inspiring events and activities to raise awareness for sepsis on World Sepsis Day on September 13th

As of today, all toolkits available for download in our toolkit section are ready for 2019 - with updated logos on the infographics, updated event material (including a PowerPoint template), updated WSD logos for 2019, and more.

Over the next few weeks and months, we will continue to translate our WSD Infographics and WSD Pocket Cards to more languages, as well as open applications and nominations for the 2019 GSA Awards - stay tuned.

Marvin Zick
2nd WSC – Panel Discussion – Sepsis Is a Devastating Disease: Listen to the Survivors and Those Bereaved

‘Sepsis Is a Devastating Disease: Listen to the Survivors and Those Bereaved’ - Session 14 from the 2nd World Sepsis Congress - is now available to recap on YouTube (embedded above) and as a Podcast on Apple Podcasts (iTunes link).
This session is very special, instead of presentations by doctors, researchers, patient advocates, policy makers, and international stakeholders, it features a roundtable discussion by people affected by sepsis and family members. It is chaired by Ray Schachter, member of the board of the GSA and sepsis survivors himself, and the following people share their very personal stories:

  • Carl Flatley, US

  • Elkhatim Elyas Mohamed, Sudan

  • Fiona Gray, Australia

  • Idelette Nutma-Bade, The Netherlands

  • Peter Wilkinson, Australia

We will be on a short break over the holidays, returning on Thursday, January 3rd, 2019, with session 15, ‘Improving Awareness: National and Global Strategies’. Please head over to the 2nd WSC website for the full release schedule.

The 2nd WSC is brought to you free of charge by the Global Sepsis Alliance, fostering our aspiration to bring knowledge about sepsis to all parts of the world. If you enjoyed it or learned something, please consider donating to our cause.

Marvin Zick
2018 in Review, Plans for 2019, and Happy Holidays from the Team at the Global Sepsis Alliance

Thank you for supporting World Sepsis Day, the work of the Global Sepsis Alliance, and the fight against sepsis throughout 2018.

2018 was another successful year for raising awareness of sepsis and igniting policy change worldwide.

The 2017 WHO Resolution on Sepsis was followed up by the first WHO Technical Expert Meeting on Sepsis in Geneva in January 2018.

In February 2017, the Khartoum Resolution was produced at the International Sepsis Conference in Sudan, supported by both the African Sepsis Alliance and the Global Sepsis Alliance.

In March 2018, we hosted the event ‘Sepsis - The Most Preventable Cause of Death and Disability in Europe - A Call to EU Action’ in Brussels, together with the EU Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Vytenis Andriukaitis. At this meeting, the European Sepsis Alliance was founded and the Brussels Resolution adopted.

Also in Brussels in March, we hosted a World Sepsis Day Supporter Meeting at the 38th International Symposium on Intensive Care and Emergency Medicine (ISICEM), with presentations by Konrad Reinhart, Hiroki Saito from the WHO, Simon Finfer, Vida Hamilton, Tobias Gothow, and Marvin Zick.

For World Hand Hygiene Day on May 5th, we initiated the Clean Hands Challenge, challenging health institutions around the world to participate and promote awareness about hand hygiene and sepsis.

Later in May, we launched ‘Stories of Sepsis’, a new format highlighting a very personal story of a sepsis survivor or those bereaved by sepsis every 5 to 7 weeks - so far, Mac Horsburgh, Jay & Sue Stull, Thomas Gatley, Maddy Jones, Sonia Adrissi, Fiona Gray, Mia Wilkinson, Lucy Ellis, and Verna Marzo. We will share more stories in 2019.

In June, our friends from the Latin American Sepsis Institute (LASI) hosted the XV Fórum Internacional de Sepsis in São Paulo. At the meeting, the São Paulo Declaration was adopted.

Also in June, we announced the winners of the 2018 GSA Awards, which received their awards at medical conferences and similar events throughout the rest of the year.

On September 5th and 6th, we of course hosted the 2nd World Sepsis Congress, bringing knowledge about sepsis to all parts of the world. The congress was free of charge, took place completely online, and featured 103 renowned experts from 29 countries speaking on all aspects of sepsis. All sessions were recorded and are released to our YouTube Channel and on Apple Podcasts weekly on Thursdays - sessions 1 to 13 are already available, while sessions 14 to 17 are coming December 20th, January 3rd, January 10th, and January 17th, respectively. More background on the congress is available in the 2nd WSC Report.

Shortly before World Sepsis Day on September 13th, we released the brand-new infographics, which are now available in 3 languages (English, Spanish, German).

World Sepsis Day itself was the biggest yet, with countless events in all parts of the world, from sport activities, pink picnics, events for medical professionals, gala events, to public events and much, much more. There was a lot of activity on Social Media as well, with many people using the new infographics, #WorldSepsisDay trending in some parts of the world, and our Facebook Page reaching more than 2.4 million people. The 2018 World Sepsis Day Event Poster summarizes many events and activities and is now available to download and order printed copies.

On World Sepsis Day, we launched the GSA Global Quality Measures Survey, a global survey which will shape the work of the Global Sepsis Alliance, our members, policy makers, and international stakeholders for years to come. The survey is still open, please participate and encourage your network to do the same.

In early October, we founded the Asian Pacific Sepsis Alliance - expect more news on our regional alliances in 2019.

Later in October, we held another World Sepsis Day Supporter Meeting, this time at the ESICM LIVES congress in Paris, France, with a wide array of supporters from all over the world.

In November, we launched the new World Sepsis Day Pocket Cards in two distinct versions, one for medical professionals and one for lay people. Both versions cover sepsis in adults, in pregnant women, in children, and in newborns/neonates. In addition to how to spot sepsis in said groups, the pocket cards for medical professionals also include treatment advice.

Throughout the year, we translated our video ‘What Is Sepsis? (sepsis explained in 3 minutes)’ to more languages. Besides English, it is now available in Spanish, Portuguese, FrenchItalian, Turkish, and German (YouTube links). It has been viewed over 150,000 times so far. Please continue to send it to your loved ones to let them know about sepsis - awareness save lives.

In 2019, we will continue to translate the WSD Infographics, the WSD Pocket Cards, and our video to more languages. Early in 2019, we will open applications and nominations for the 2019 GSA Awards. We will have at least two World Sepsis Day Supporter Meetings in 2019, at ESICM in Brussels in March, and at ESICM LIVES in Berlin in September. You can expect us to announce more on regional sepsis alliances in 2019, as well as to work relentlessly with our member organizations, the World Health Organization, regional governments, and international stakeholders to ignite policy change and grant sepsis the priority it deserves.
In close proximity to World Sepsis Day, we will host the WSC Spotlight 2019 - a free online congress shining a spotlight on one particular aspect of sepsis – stay tuned.

Please consider donating to support our activities.

We would like to thank all of you - our supporters, colleagues, friends, volunteers, members, and partners for an amazing 2018. We wish everybody happy holidays and a good start into 2019, as well as happiness, success, and above all, health.

Marvin Zick