Man who lost wife to sepsis waves off cyclists

Craig Stobo, centre, sets Claire Gordon and Dan Beckett on their way. Picture: Malcolm McCurrach
Craig Stobo, centre, sets Claire Gordon and Dan Beckett on their way. Picture: Malcolm McCurrach
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A man who lost his wife and unborn daughter to sepsis has joined the Scotswoman of the Year to support a charity cycle ride raising awareness of the condition.

Craig Stobo, 43, who now acts as a single parent to son Robert, three, recently set up Scotland’s first dedicated sepsis charity, the Fiona Elizabeth Agnew Trust (FEAT), to raise awareness of the condition after losing wife Fiona and daughter Isla in August last year.

Yesterday he was at the Scottish Parliament seeing off Dr Dan Beckett, 38, and his partner Dr Claire Gordon, of Linlithgow, who are cycling between Holyrood and Westminster in six days to raise awareness of sepsis.

Craig, who lives in Marchmont and works as a tax advisor, said: “Sepsis kills 37,000 people in the UK every year – more than lung cancer and more than breast and bowel cancer combined. And many of those who survive are left suffering crippling after-effects. If a new disease was discovered that caused the same number of deaths it would be all over the news, yet you rarely hear about sepsis.

“Early diagnosis and treatment can literally be a life-saver, but we need to make clinicians and the general public more aware of the symptoms.”

The early stages of the condition can mimic a bad flu, meaning many do not receive care until the illness, which causes multiple organ failure, has already progressed too far.

Dr Claire Gordon said the condition, which kills approximately a thousand people worldwide every hour, was “devastating”.

She said: “There were a couple of patients early in my career who suffered from sepsis. They were very young and the condition took a devastating toll. I want to help stop more people suffering like they did.”

Also there to see them off was Scotswoman of the Year and Ambassador for the UK Sepsis Trust, Erin McNeill, 23, of Stirling, who contracted sepsis in 2009 after suffering 45 per cent burns to her body in a house fire.

Erin, who has raised roughly £85,000 for firefighters’ charities, said: “I still suffer from short-term memory loss as a result of sepsis, which nearly killed me by sending me into organ failure.”

Single dad Craig was also struck down with the condition hours before GP wife Fiona – who recognised his symptoms and rushed him to hospital – was affected in the 35th week of her pregnancy.

“I was lucky enough to make a full recovery, but that had a lot to do with being diagnosed early,” he said. “My condition deteriorated within hours and had it not been for Fiona my outcome could have been very different.

“Being pregnant makes you more susceptible as your immune system is compromised. One of the most awful things is that it hit her so fast she didn’t have time to diagnose herself.”