Sunday 21 July 2019

Lil Red's legacy - family of teen rapper who died from sepsis launch awareness campaign

Temple Street Hospital Inset: Sean Hughes
Temple Street Hospital Inset: Sean Hughes
Conor Feehan

Conor Feehan

THE heartbroken family of a Finglas teenager who died from sepsis has succeeded in getting a health awareness campaign on to Dublin buses in the hope that more people will become aware of the killer illness.

Sean Hughes, known as ‘Lil Red’, was only 15 and appeared to be getting over a flu-like chest infection when he suddenly lost consciousness while watching television with his mother last January.

Despite the desperate efforts of his father and a team of ambulance paramedics to resuscitate him, he died in Temple Street Hospital.

Sean’s family is now calling for a nationwide awareness campaign about sepsis and its symptoms, and they came one step closer to that after getting the Lil Red Legacy poster on to Dublin Bus vehicles.

One of the new posters on a Dublin Bus
One of the new posters on a Dublin Bus

The poster describes the symptoms of the illness so that people can be more familiar with them.

Around 3,000 people a year die from sepsis in Ireland. It claims more lives than heart attacks, breast cancer or lung cancer, and can kill a healthy person within 12 hours.

“We got in touch with a few companies ourselves to see if they could help us spread Lil Red’s message,” his father Joe told

“We are still trying to get the HSE and the Department of Health to launch a national campaign like they did for stroke awareness and meningitis, but we are still finding little backing or support,” he explained.

“Dublin Bus were great and the posters, which we paid for ourselves, are now on the buses from the Harristown and Phibsboro depots for the next two weeks.

They will be seen by a lot of people and we are hugely grateful to Dublin Bus for helping us out.”

The posters highlight thje symptoms of sepsis
The posters highlight thje symptoms of sepsis

The Hughes family has also been invited to do school talks on sepsis, and is to get a stand at Croke Park during an upcoming music event to help spread their message.

They are still calling on the HSE and health professionals to include new protocols in their diagnosis procedures so sepsis cases can be picked up as early as possible.

“We’re doing the best we can on our own but the people who actually have a duty of care to do it are not,” Joe said.

They believe that a public campaign with simple symptoms graphics, similar to ones raising awareness about stroke and meningitis, could save lives.

“There isn’t anything out there at the moment. You see TV campaigns and posters about meningitis and stroke, but there isn’t anything similar for sepsis,” Joe said.

“We’ve been told by the authorities it’s not in the 2019 budget and it might be in the 2020 budget, but what price do you put on a life?”

Sean, their youngest child, had been sick before his collapse in January.

“He hadn’t been well but he’d had colds and chest infections before and always shook them off,” said his mother Karen.

“On the Wednesday I brought him to the doctor and he was prescribed antibiotics.

“Then on the Thursday he was lying on the couch.

“Sean had a rattle in his chest and he said, ‘This is doing my head in’, and I thought to myself that I’d bring him back to the doctor the next day.

“Then he stopped talking. He just stopped. I couldn’t believe it, it just didn’t seem real. I had been talking to him, wondering what to watch on the TV, and half an hour later we were in intensive care in Temple Street,” she added.


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