Man sets up charity after losing wife and child

Fiona Agnew died when she was 35 weeks pregnant. Picture: PA

Fiona Agnew died when she was 35 weeks pregnant. Picture: PA

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A MAN who lost his Edinburgh GP wife and unborn child to sepsis has set up a charity to raise awareness of the illness which claims about 37,000 lives in the UK every year. Fiona Agnew was 35 weeks pregnant when she developed symptoms and her daughter Isla Elspeth was stillborn.

Doctors could not save the 38-year-old mother and she died at Forth Valley Hospital in Larbert, Falkirk a few hours later

Craig Stobo, a senior manager at PricewaterhouseCooper, said he hopes that money raised by Feat, (Fiona Elizabeth Agnew Trust), launched 11 months after her death, will fund research into the relatively common but unrecognised illness.

Speaking of the double tragedy 43-year-old Craig said: “ It was the darkest period of my life. In one weekend my world was turned upside down”.

Sepsis is when the body’s response to an infection causes shock and multiple organ failure, often leading to death.

The most common examples of infection that trigger sepsis are pneumonia, urinary tract infections and meningitis.

Dr Agnew worked as a doctor in a GP surgery in Bo’ness and lived with Craig and son Robert in Edinburgh.

Mr Stob fell ill at the same time as his wife in August last year, although the source of infection has not been established. He has now fully recovered.

“While I was being treated with intravenous antibiotics in the acute ward of the Western General Hospital in Edinburgh, I learned that Fiona had also fallen ill.

“It turned out she had succumbed to the same condition, and was seriously ill in Forth Valley Hospital in Larbert.

Unfortunately, her symptoms advanced much quicker and her system was compromised due to her pregnancy.

“Isla was still born and a few hours later, despite the latest medical techniques, machines and antibiotics, Fiona died of sepsis and septic shock.”

Speaking of his own ordeal, which saw him hospitalised for over a week, Mr Stobo says he owes his survival to his late wife.

“I felt fine when I woke in the morning but only a few hours later I was at my desk feeling very cold and shivery, and by mid-afternoon I had a severe headache, nausea and a temperature.

“Fiona called me on her way to a 35-week scan and instinctively recognised that my symptoms weren’t just the flu or a virus.

She encouraged me to see my GP and get admitted to hospital and I have no doubt that without her early intervention, I wouldn’t be here today.

He continued: “Awareness of sepsis is still very low and is certainly not on a level with other diseases such as meningitis, heart disease or cancer. But this can change.

More information about Feat can be found at stopsepsis.org.uk and justgiving.com/feat.