World Sepsis Day Advocacy in the Heart of Downtown Vancouver, Canada

World Sepsis Day 2018 saw the most recognizable landmarks in Vancouver, British Columbia (BC), Canada lit up in pink. This year, the Action on Sepsis Research Cluster at the University of British Columbia is planning to do even more by hosting a public awareness event in the heart of downtown Vancouver. Our trans-disciplinary team of researchers, clinicians, patients, public end users, and healthcare policymakers are active in the fight against sepsis in BC and globally. For WSD, we will engage and educate the people of Vancouver about the importance of sepsis and how they can help in the fight against this life-threatening condition.

This exciting event in Vancouver is happening on Friday September 13th, 2019, between 11am and 6pm, and will be located at Robson Square near the Vancouver Art Gallery, western Canada’s largest public art museum. The event will feature a number of interactive activities, including a sepsis trivia wheel where prizes can be won and an interactive 'map of knowledge' where your knowledge and experience of sepsis can be indicated. In addition, there will be music and of course the classic WSD pink decor! Our team of health professionals, patients, and health research trainees will be there to talk to visitors about sepsis, and throughout the day we’ll have sepsis experts provide interviews for social media from the event site. Everyone will be encouraged to post about the event on social media using #WorldSepsisDay.

A key component of our event is engaging and connecting with patients. Patients who have lived the experience of sepsis will have the opportunity to share in person and online their personal stories of navigating the complex condition and how it has impacted their lives. We hope this will increase awareness of the long-term impact of this disease and promote better post-discharge care for future sepsis survivors. Patient partners will also share their stories through the Action on Sepsis website and Twitter (@ActiononSepsis) prior to the event.

To ensure our message reaches beyond Vancouver, we’ve partnered with a number of organizations with provincial networks, including the Centre of International Child Health at BC Children’s Hospital, BC Patient Safety and Quality Council, BC Emergency Medicine Network, and Child Health BC.

We hope reading this gives you some ideas for planning your own WSD Event, and for those readers in the Greater Vancouver Area, we hope you can stop by on Friday, September 13. For more details, see our event page.

Twitter accounts to tag:

Marvin Zick
Tom's Sepsis Story - A Sepsis Survivor, Twenty Years On
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Tom Ray lost his lower arms, lower legs, and half of his face when sepsis struck him out of the blue in December 1999. Nearly twenty years on, he considers the enduring impact of his life transformation.

It had started as stomach pains, and I thought I might have food poisoning

But then I began to deteriorate at a terrifying pace: I was violently sick, had blinding headaches, my skin grew mottled and pale, I became confused and anxious. It was like being run over by a lorry – it was that fast.

A later investigation found that the infection had been gained from a trip to the dentist when they nicked my mouth, coupled with a chest infection.

I remember when I first came out of the induced coma, after 5 months

Startled and overwhelmed, I found myself in Cambridge, in the UK. I didn’t know who I was, my memory had gone, I had to be re-introduced to my wife and family. At that point, no-one in the hospital was willing to confirm that I was going to survive – there was this sense that I was some kind of medical freak and that since they’d never had a patient survive sepsis with such severe amputations, I’d probably die of complications and never, ever make it home.

Well, it certainly hasn’t been easy. Sepsis has been the challenge of my life, I’ve spent the last two decades battling to come to terms with radical change in my life, struggling to support my family, coping alone with serious post-traumatic stress.

I had painful surgery to reconstruct my face

They amputated my nose, lips and chin, so the surgeons tried to rebuild my face using grafts from my chest and shoulder. It was a piecemeal failure. There were repeated attempts to re-line my nostrils and to create a nasal airway. The plastic surgeons did half the job, then gave up, telling me they could not re-instate my lips, or my chin. My nose was half reconstructed, and it’s been left blocked. The terror of that facial surgery, much of it with only local anaesthetic, stays with me to this day.

I have myoelectric hands provided free by the NHS. There are better prosthetics, but these are not available to me, because I cannot pay privately. I wish I could – you can get hands with fingers that articulate separately now, but they’re not available to me. My prosthetic legs are painful to wear, ill fitting, and my stumps are often bleeding. I cannot walk very far in them at all.

My greatest achievement in the last two decades since I became severely disabled is to have kept my family together

I’m so very proud of this. It’s meant that I have had to develop huge reserves of resilience, showing profound understanding of the needs of those close to me, and compromising at every turn. I’ve not had a single minute of counselling - I’ve had to manage on my own. My top priority has been to be a good Dad for my beautiful children, and to minimise the impact of my traumatic disability on my wife. I’m a much more considerate person these days. Everything changed for me when I started to appreciate that what had happened to me affected everyone around me, and I had to work hard to mitigate the impact as much as possible. Once I realised that I could control the way I felt, by being very disciplined, I became empowered.

Going back to work was instrumental in this respect

It gave me routine, something external to distract me, and a new network outside of my own situation. I work in a Call Centre, and although the work is low paid and well below my skill level (I have a postgraduate degree), the job has sustained me to some extent. I have also built a business as an inspirational speaker on Resilience & Managing Change, and I give keynote addresses at large events. I love doing this, I get fantastic feedback, and audiences find my story of recovery and resilience inspiring. By spreading the word about sepsis, I feel I am helping to save lives.

A feature film has been made about what happened to me

It’s called Starfish (trailer on YouTube), and it’s been shown in cinemas right across the world. I wrote a book to accompany it. 

Let me be perfectly honest. Dealing with amputation on this scale and the underlying trauma is not easy, and I do still struggle. Every day is difficult, I have to work creatively and with sheer determination to battle on. But I’m in love with life – with my incredible wife, with my beautiful family, and all that remains in this wonderful world. In that sense, yes, I am a grateful Sepsis Survivor. I have much to say to encourage fellow survivors and their families, and endless understanding for those who suffer and endure any kind of setback or crisis.

We go on.

Find out more about Tom Ray and his role as an inspirational speaker at

The article above was written by Tom Ray and is shared here with his 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 Tom for sharing his story and for fighting to raise awareness of sepsis.

Marvin Zick
The WSD Photo Challenge - A Quick and Easy Way to Raise Awareness for Sepsis and World Sepsis Day
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With World Sepsis Day less than a month away, we would like to introduce you to the WSD Photo Challenge - a quick and easy way to raise awareness for sepsis and World Sepsis Day.

Just download the photo challenge material from our toolkit section, print the photo board you like the best (there are 7 options to choose from), write your name on it, take a picture, and upload it to Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook, using the hashtag #WorldSepsisDay or tag us in the post (@WorldSepsisDay).

As always, we are interested in your feedback. What do you like? And, more importantly, what could be improved? Are you missing a particular photo board or have an idea for another one? Contact us.

Marvin Zick
TED Talk: Partnering to Beat Sepsis by Melanie Wright

At TEDxBoise, Melanie Wright gave an amazing TED Talk on sepsis - we recommend watching it in its entirety and sharing it with your colleagues and friends:

Sepsis arises when the body’s response to an infection injures its own tissues and organs. It may lead to shock, multi-organ failure, and death - especially if not recognized early and treated promptly. Sepsis is the final common pathway to death from most infectious diseases worldwide.

Marvin Zick
New Website of the European Sepsis Alliance Now Live
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The website of the European Sepsis Alliance is now live -

The ESA was founded in March 2018 at the event “Sepsis - A Call to EU Action” under the auspices of the EU Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Vytenis Andriukaitis in Brussels, and is one of the regional sepsis alliances of the Global Sepsis Alliance.

The ESA is working on implementing the demands of the WHO Resolution on Sepsis within Europe, as summarized in the Brussels Resolution.

Marvin Zick
Sepsis Awareness Symposium at Houston Methodist Hospital in Texas Medical Center
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The Houston Methodist Hospital in Houston, Texas will host multiple events for World Sepsis Day on September 12th and 13th of 2019.

The Sepsis Education symposium will be held on September 12th. This activity has been planned and implemented in accordance with the essential areas and policies of the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education, Texas Nurses Association, and American Nurses Credentialing Center’s Commission on Accreditation, and American Association for Respiratory Care. Physicians, advanced acute care nurse practitioners, physician assistants, nurses, respiratory therapists, physical therapists, occupational therapists, pharmacists, administrators, and quality officers will be able to earn continuing education credits.

There will be a general public booth display with giveaways and a poster contest on September 13th from 8 am to 3 pm at the Houston Methodist Hospital Crain Garden.

More than 1.5 million people get sepsis in the United States each year, with sepsis affecting 27 to 30 million people worldwide. At least 250,000 Americans die from sepsis each year and about 1 in 3 patients who die in a hospital have sepsis. The mission of this event is to promote awareness of sepsis to the community and healthcare team with the goal of improving patient care.

Marvin Zick
Invitation to Our WSD Supporter Meeting on September 30th at ESICM LIVES in Berlin, Germany

We will hold our next WSD Supporter Meeting on September 30th, 2019 at ESICM LIVES 2019 in Berlin. Main topics will be the collaboration with the WHO to roll out the demands of the Resolution on Sepsis, an update on the establishment of regional sepsis alliances, World Sepsis Day, the 2019 WSC Spotlight, and more. You can download the preliminary agenda below.

If you are in Berlin in September, we encourage you to participate – we are looking forward to connecting with you and hearing your ideas and suggestions to continue to raise awareness for sepsis worldwide.

  • Monday, September 30th, 2019

  • 12:15 to 14:00h (lunch break of ESICM LIVES 2019)

  • Meeting Room: to be announced in September

  • Snacks will be provided

  • Participation is free of charge and open to everyone

Marvin Zick
WSD Infographics Now Available in Portuguese and Italian, Besides English, Spanish, French, and German
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Our World Sepsis Day Infographics are now available in Portuguese and Italian, besides English, Spanish, French, and German. They are a quick and free download in our WSD Toolkit Section.

Like in the other languages, there are a total of 21 infographics, nine on sepsis itself, ranging from symptoms, sources, prevention, risk groups, to physiology, post-sepsis symptoms, and more. Additionally, there are two on hand-washing, and ten more pointing out the relationship to other World Health Days, such as World Malaria Day, World AIDS Day, World Immunization Week, and more.

The infographics are available as images (.png), as well as optimized for print (.pdf).

If you like the new infographics, please use them as you see fit, on your social media channels, printed at your events, and everywhere in between. Tell your colleagues and friends about sepsis and World Sepsis Day. If you found a typo or have suggestions for improvements or more graphics, please get in touch.

Marvin Zick