GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA) – Nearly three years ago, while working as nurse practitioners in Charleston, Allison and Daniel Harrold noticed that something wasn’t right with their 9-month-old daughter Clover, a niece of 7 News’ Jamarcus Gaston.
“She had a fever of 102 degrees. It didn’t really seem like a normal fever. She was very grumpy, not acting herself, not wanting to eat. The doctor told us there was some virus going around, that it was fine, she tested negative for flu and strep, they were both negative and she would get better,” Allison Harrold said.
They went home, but the fever didn’t go down, and after going back to the hospital in the Charleston area, Clover’s heart rate rose and her skin became mottled.
“She had vomiting and the doctor referred to her, I’ll always remember, as a ‘doughy’ color,” Harrold said.
After conducting more testing, doctors there thought she had cancer. However, once they finally realized she actually had sepsis, it was too late, Harrold said, and Clover died.
“I think it was one simple error of judgment,” she said. “Clover had very obvious symptoms of sepsis.”
Now the Harrolds live in the Upstate and want to raise awareness about sepsis.
Bon Secours Sepsis Coordinator Brandi Giles explained that Clover’s symptoms were typical of sepsis, which is the body’s response to infection that sometimes leads to organ failure, tissue damage and death.
“We need to look for those things that we aren’t really sure what’s going on,” Giles said. “We can’t explain a fever, we can’t identify a source of infection we still need to suspect an infection. A lot of the times its a urinary tract infection or pneumonia, or it can begin as a viral infection like the flu.”
Giles encourages parents not to be afraid to ask doctors if their child has sepsis, because if they do, there’s not much time.
“Those patients over the age of 65 and under a year old are at the highest risk. The first hour is very important that we get labs,” she said. “If we decide hours into this that it’s not sepsis, we can back off treatment, but treatment is simple. It’s antibiotics and fluids,” she said.
This March, Bon Secours St. Francis launched the Clover Award to recognize employees who have taken life-saving actions to identify and treat the condition early. On St. Patrick’s Day, they will announce the first winner. That person will receive a four-leaf clover pins to put on his or her identification badge, in honor of Clover.
More than 75,000 children in the U.S. develop sepsis every year and almost 7,000 of them die, according to the Sepsis Alliance.