In Memory of… Erin “Bug” Flatley, 1978 – 2002erin-flatley

Erin’s Campaign for Kids aims to combat the high incidence and mortality rates of sepsis among children. The campaign creates awards and training programs for nurses and other health professionals to help identify and treat a disease that, by conservative estimates, causes over 18 child deaths per day or 6,800 child deaths in the United States every year, more than pediatric cancers.

The campaign is named in honor of Erin Kay Flatley, an aspiring teacher, who died at the age of 23, from sepsis that developed following a routine surgery. Erin’s spirit lives on through the creation of Sepsis Alliance, the nation’s leading organization dedicated to saving lives and reducing suffering by increasing awareness of sepsis as a medical emergency.

Erin’s Campaign for KidsErin’s Campaign for Kids is a first-of-its-kind initiative, created to address an unmet need: the devastating impact of sepsis on children. Programs recognize excellence in pediatric nursing and also designate an Erin Kay Flatley Spirit Award at the Sepsis Alliance annual Sepsis Heroes gala. The campaign has also produced the award-winning educational video “Sepsis and Children,” conducted a national survey of parents’ sepsis awareness, distributed thousands of pediatric sepsis information guides, and created a pediatric sepsis symptoms card (see below).

Click here to read Erin’s Faces of Sepsis story.


New Sepsis and Children Video

This new short feature illustrates the alarming impact sepsis has both in the U.S. and around the globe. The video tells the story of 8-year-old Michael Stolzenberg, who developed sepsis from a cut that became infected and ultimately led to a quadruple amputation to both of Michael’s arms and legs. In addition to Michael’s inspirational story, learn about the worldwide impact of childhood sepsis from Niranjan “Tex” Kissoon, MD, FRCP(C), FAAP, FCCM, FACPE, a globally recognized leading expert on sepsis in children.

Erin Kay Flatley Pediatric Sepsis Nursing Award

Every year, Sepsis Alliance recognizes nurses working in pediatrics and sepsis who honor the spirit of Erin Kay Flatley. Recipients in 2017 were Beth Wathen from Children’s Hospital Colorado, in Aurora, Colorado, and Wendi Redfern from Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Mahumuda Aktar from Bangladesh was selected as the international award recipient.

New for 2018, there will be four award categories: U.S. Nurse, International Nurse, Sepsis Coordinator, and Student. Recognition will be given to two licensed nurses from the U.S. and one licensed nurse from anywhere on the globe who demonstrate excellence in their work and a commitment to improving outcomes among pediatric patients. Additionally, one sepsis coordinator in a U.S. healthcare system and two nursing students who have focused on sepsis will be honored.

Related: Sepsis Alliance Announces Recipients of 2017 Erin Kay Flatley Pediatric Nursing Awards


Erin Kay Flatley Spirit Award

The Erin Kay Flatley Spirit Award recognizes outstanding dedication, sacrifice and contribution to improving the care and lives of sepsis patients. Erin was a passionate young woman who wanted to be an elementary school teacher. Her desire to give back to society is the basis for this award recognition.

The award recognizes one organization or individual each year and is presented at the annual Sepsis Heroes gala in New York City. Spirit Award recipients effectively bring Erin’s spirit to the fight against sepsis and are selected by a panel of experts. Recipients receive a $5,000 award to further their work.

The recipients of the 2017 Spirit Award were Liz and Tony Galbowho tragically lost their five-year-old daughter, Gabby, to sepsis in 2012. The couple have since raised awareness in their home state of Illinois to such a level that Gabby’s Law was enacted, requiring hospitals to implement sepsis protocols to improve early detection and treatment of sepsis.

About Erin

“It seems like yesterday our healthy and vibrant 23-year-old daughter Erin was with us. The devastation is real and constant, especially with the knowledge now that had I just put her caregivers on notice that we were concerned about sepsis and asked a few understandable questions every day, she would be here. Doing just this worked for me after I got sepsis myself two years ago, or my recovery might not have occurred.

“There are no redos or make-ups. The pain is forever!

“I was told, confidentially, by medical personnel at her death bed, ‘There are lots of Erins.’ As a health professional of 25 years, I had no idea sepsis was such a publicly non-discussed global problem that is centuries old. WHY? There are things you can do.”

— Carl Flatley, DDS , MSD

Click here to see a PSA about Zach, a young sepsis survivor, now appearing on Hulu and other national outlets.

Right click to download and save the pediatric symptoms of sepsis to your computer or phone.