Atlanta Woman Honored By Georgia House of Representatives for Raising Awareness of Sepsis

March 22, 2017

Sepsis survivor, Karen Thieken, recognized by Georgia Rep. Chuck Efstration (R-Dacula) for her life-saving work

ATLANTA – Today, State Representative Chuck Efstration (R-Dacula) lead the Georgia House of Representatives in honoring sepsis survivor Karen Thieken and her husband Paul Thieken for their work in conjunction with Sepsis Alliance to help raise awareness of the life-threatening condition in Georgia.

In April 2012, Karen Thieken was at home doing yardwork when she passed out with very low blood pressure of 47. After being rushed to the hospital, she was initially diagnosed with meningitis before she went into septic shock and was placed in a medically induced coma, all in a matter of 12 hours.

Sepsis is the body’s overwhelming and life-threating response to infection, which can lead to tissue damage, organ failure and death. Sepsis is a condition that is preventable and treatable, and thousands of lives can be saved each year by simply raising awareness of its symptoms.

“As a sepsis survivor who has been a strong advocate in her community for many years, we’re excited for Karen to receive this well-deserved recognition,” said Thomas Heymann, Executive Director of Sepsis Alliance. “Only 55 percent of adults in the U.S. have heard of sepsis, so we’re grateful for the voice that Karen has given to raising awareness for this medical emergency. Volunteers like Karen make a difference and save lives from sepsis.”

Sepsis Statistics

  • Sepsis is a medical emergency that kills over 250,000 Americans a year – one every two minutes – which is more than prostate cancer, breast cancer, and AIDS, combined.
  • More than 42,000 children develop severe sepsis each year and 4,400 of these children lose their life, more than from pediatric cancers.
  • Someone is diagnosed with sepsis every 20 seconds in the U.S.
  • According to the 2016 Sepsis Alliance Annual Survey, only 55 percent of adults have even heard of sepsis.
  • Sepsis is a worldwide emergency. More than 26 million people from around the globe are affected by sepsis each year and is the largest killer of children – more than 5 million each year

“Karen Thieken’s ability to overcome her own battle with sepsis and use that experience to educate others about the impact and its dangers is truly inspirational,” said Rep. Efstration in a statement. “Her outstanding work in partnership with Sepsis Alliance to raise awareness of this life-threatening condition is admirable. I am honored to have an individual in my district like Mrs. Thieken who is dedicated to the betterment of others in our community, the state and across the country.”

Symptoms of sepsis may include shivering and fever, extreme pain, accelerated heartbeat, sleepy and difficult to rouse, skin pale or discolored, or shortness of breath. If you suspect someone you know or love may have sepsis, see a medical professional immediately, call 911, or go to a hospital and say, “I am concerned about sepsis.”

During Monday’s presentation, Thieken was joined by her husband, two children, as well as two advocates from the Southeast Chapter of the Society for Critical Care Medicine. For more information about sepsis or Sepsis Alliance, please visit


About Sepsis Alliance

Sepsis Alliance is the nation’s leading sepsis advocacy organization, dedicated to saving lives by raising awareness of sepsis as a medical emergency. A 501(c)(3) organization, Sepsis Alliance was founded by Dr. Carl Flatley after the sudden, unnecessary death of his daughter Erin to a disease he had never even heard of. Sepsis Alliance produces and distributes educational materials for patients, families and health providers on sepsis prevention, early recognition and treatment. The organization also offers support to patients, sepsis survivors, and family members through its website which receives more than 1 million visits each year. The organization founded Sepsis Awareness Month in 2011, and works with partners to host community outreach events across North America. Since Sepsis Alliance began its mission, sepsis awareness has increased almost threefold, from 19% to 55%. For more information on Sepsis Alliance, a GuideStar Gold-rated charity, please visit

Representative Chuck Efstration represents the citizens of District 104, which includes portions of Gwinnett County. He was first elected to the House of Representatives in 2013, and currently serves as Vice Chairman on the Legislative & Congressional Reapportionment Committee and the Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation. He also serves on the Defense & Veterans Affairs, Insurance, and Juvenile Justice committees.