My mother (69 years old) went to the emergency room with severe abdominal pain in June, 2013. Despite an x-ray showing a classic sign of a bowel perforation, the surgeon decided not to operate. (Sepsis and Perforated Bowel) She began showing signs of peritonitis (infection inside the abdominal cavity caused by leaking bowel contents) that night, and declined rapidly before being transferred to a larger hospital.
After surgery to repair the bowel perforation she developed sepsis and spent 14 days in the ICU while her organs failed one by one. When it became obvious that she wouldn’t survive, we made the decision to take her off the ventilator and keep her comfortable until she took her last breath (which was only about 30 minutes later). We repeated the sepsis story only 17 months later with our brother Rusty (46 years old) after surgery remove an arterial clot in his leg and a subsequent amputation. (Sepsis and Surgery, Sepsis and Amputations) We had to make the decision to withdraw ventilator support again after multi-system organ failure.