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Grantham woman tells story of her father's battle with sepsis to raise awareness

A daughter whose father died after developing sepsis is raising both awareness of the infection and money to help combat it.

Gemma Lee will hold a Halloween-themed bake-off, fancy dress competition and coffee morning on Thursday at Blue Castle, a waste management business based in the Long Bennington Business Park.

Proceeds will go to The UK Sepsis Trust, which supports people affected by the deadly infection and aims to end preventable deaths like that of Graham Lee in 2018.

Graham Lee (20123766)
Graham Lee (20123766)

Here, Gemma tells her father’s story.

She said: “He was on his way to a doctor’s appointment when he stopped outside Co-op Travel looking at a holiday.

“My dad said ‘that’s a bargain, Janet, that will be gone before we know it,’ but Mum said ‘let’s see what the doctor says first’.

Graham Lee, memorial bench (20123827)
Graham Lee, memorial bench (20123827)

“It turned out Dad had to undergo surgery to remove part of his left lung which had a form of skin cancer. The operation was successful and Dad was discharged and seemed to be recovering well.

“He seemed to be slowly getting better and back to his old self on the Wednesday before Easter.”

However, Graham started to feelunwell in the night, turning hot and cold, and doubled up in pain.

Concerned, his wife rang the doctors’ surgery and Graham was prescribed tablets, but by Good Friday he was still not himself and was breaking out in hot sweats.

Gemma said: “I rang my mum to tell her not to worry and I was on my way. When she didn’t answer I didn’t really think anything.

“Mum rang back upset as Dad was getting worst and with the next breath I heard Mum shout ‘Graham’ and the phone went dead.

“Mum rang back upset and very distressed as Dad had blacked out in the bathroom and had hit his head.

“I told Mum to put the phone down and dial 999 fast. I was out of the door within the next five minutes.

“By the time I had arrived to our family home, there was already a paramedic on the scene. I could hear my dad from the bathroom moaning in pain, and I can remember thinking ‘I hope they aren’t hurting him’.”

Reassured by the ambulance driver that Graham would be fine, Gemma stayed to tidy round and pack an overnight bag for her dad while her mum accompanied him to hospital.

Gemma arrived at A&E in Lincoln to find three doctors around her dad’s bed and her mum beside herself with worry.

She said: “I was trying to be strong for Mum and Dad.

“Mum asked me to travel to Yorkshire to pick up my sister which I did do, but I made sure I kissed my dad before I left the hospital.

“I can’t really remember a lot about the journey but I remember arriving back at the hospital.

“I quickly checked my phone and there were seven missed calls from my mum. I just thought my dad may have to stay in hospital overnight.

“When I answered the next call from her phone, it was a nurse. I asked if everything was OK with Dad and she said we needed to have a chat.

“Myself, my partner, sister and nephew were all waiting in the entrance, getting anxious. The nurse arrived holding Mum’s arm.

“I can’t remember much but I was running up to Mum. I turned to find my sister and asked Mum if Dad was OK and Mum turned and told us that Dad had sadly passed away.

“After this I seemed to be walking round like a robot, trying look after Mum and to try and pull the family together.

“To say we were all shocked is an understatement. I never thought that I would have the job of arranging Dad’s funeral, collecting his death certificate and even choose the songs or poems to be played at his funeral.

“The one thing I remember seeing on the death certificate was severe sepsis. This may sound stupid but I had never heard about this, but knew I wanted to support The UK Sepsis Trust to make more people aware.

“I now have a plaque for Dad at the bottom of my garden on a bench to go and reflect on everything.

“My dad was such an amazing man, I am sure he would wish for more people to know his story and how serious this illness can be.”

The fund-raiser at Blue Castle is open to all. Anyone who cannot make it but who wishes to help the cause is asked to visit buff.ly/2qD5mZ6

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