Kirsty's Story

Chloe Duck’s sister Kirsty lost her life to urosepsis in June 2022 at the age of 33. She wants to share her sister’s story to help raise awareness and prevent anyone else from losing their best friend…

Kirsty had gone to hospital with a stomach problem, before self-discharging. But when she spoke to her trainee nurse sister Chloe on the phone, her slurred speech raised alarm bells. Chloe and her Mum both noted how Kirsty was clammy and had a rash on her hand, causing Chloe to suspect her sister might have sepsis.

After Kirsty went back to the hospital, where Chloe works, sepsis was initially dismissed. She said:

“Sepsis was very hush hush, and it made me feel like it’s a bit of an in-the-dark subject.”

“They don’t like saying ‘actually they’re treating her for sepsis’ or ‘Kirsty’s chances of survival are getting worse day by day’ – even if it was brutal, I’d have rather they’d have been honest but there was none of that.”

Kirsty went eight hours without being given antibiotics, with them administered eventually at 9pm. She was sent to a surgical ward where they said they had to put a stent into her kidney. Kirsty went for the surgery but then their mum got a phone call from the consultant saying that she needs intensive care after the operation due to the sepsis – which was the first time that the family heard the word. Chloe said: “I felt like it was the beginning of the end at that point.”

The family went to visit her in ITU on the Saturday 11th June but they were not able to visit after that due to the Covid restrictions in place at the time. Chloe said: “That visit was heartbreaking, working in the hospital I’ve seen a lot of stuff. But nothing prepares you for when it’s your sister.”

On Monday 13th June, Kirsty marked her 33rd birthday in hospital. She was brought off the ventilation and sedation and her family were able to have a tearful conversation with her through the portable phone system. But by the 15th June she was put back on the ventilator because she couldn’t control the CPAT. Chloe said: “We got a different vibe from everyone we spoke to. People were telling us ‘It’s going to be a long road to recovery, she’s going to need physio she’s going to need this and that’, and then other people were saying, ‘Oh, she’s got age on her side, she’ll be fine’.”

Chloe was working on the 17th June where she had a gut inclination to ring the hospital. She did, and was told that they had to paralyze the whole of Kirsty’s body to try and get her oxygen levels up.

At 4pm a few days later, Chloe was told her oxygen levels were improving and that it looked like they had turned a corner. She was busy trying to distract herself at a family BBQ, when by 6pm, she had a voicemail on her phone. Chloe said:

“It was the worst voicemail I have ever received.”

“I listened to it and I remember punching the back gate, and my partner running over to me and asking what was going on. I phoned them back and the first thing they said was ‘Do you live local Chloe?’ and then he told me to grab all my family and come to intensive care to have a meeting about where we go from there with Kirsty’s care.”

Chloe’s mum and younger sister Chelsey were on their way to see Harry Styles in London at the time when they got the phonecall that would change their life forever. They had jumped into a taxi back from London to Wolverhampton try and make it in time. In the meantime, the consultant told the family that Kirsty was going to die and that it wouldn’t take long. The family took it in turns to say their goodbyes. At 9.30pm Kirsty passed away, with Chelsey and their mum missing her by about 15 minutes. Chloe said: “Kirsty was my best friend, but Chelsey was like the kid that Kirsty never got to get so it was a difficult time – it still is to be honest, we have to live each day as it is and take it as it comes.”

I keep wondering, if they’d listened to me at the start, would she still be here?”

Chloe took on a lot of the burden of dealing with Kirsty’s affairs following her passing, including helping to arrange the funeral and sorting out the council tax. Chloe laments how hard it is having to choose a funeral song for someone when you’ve never even thought to have that conversation because of how young they are. Chloe said: “The only thing I can do now is raise awareness and try and get the message out there. I just want to help people avoid losing their sister and best friend like I have. My main message would be it’s called the Silent Killer for a reason. Sometimes you get every single symptom, and it’s easy for health care professionals to act on it in that situation. But sometimes it might not be obvious and the only thing I would say is when in doubt, go with that gut instinct, because it’s never far from the truth.”

Reminiscing on her sister’s life, Chloe said: “Kirsty was the most caring individual you would ever come across in life, ever. If she had a pound in her bank she wouldn’t spend it herself she’d get her nephews a pack of chocolate or something. She was just too good for this world, which is why she was taken from us.”

If you’ve lost a loved one to sepsis, access our bereavement support today.