Sepsis survivor’s fight against “Superbugs”
March 7, 2018
Supermom and sepsis survivor Dana Mirman shares her fight against “Superbugs”
The opinions expressed in this article are the interviewee’s own and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Sepsis Alliance.
Sepsis Alliance board member and sepsis survivor Dana Mirman recently went to Capitol Hill as part of Pew Charitable Trusts’ Supermoms Against Superbugs initiative to advocate for the responsible use of antibiotics. We caught up with Dana after her trip and asked her a couple of questions.
What are the goals of the Supermoms Against Superbugs movement and what inspired you to become involved?
Supermoms Against Superbugs is an initiative by Pew Charitable Trusts, which brings together mothers, fathers, doctors, and farmers to combat the problem of antibiotic resistance.
I became involved because as a sepsis survivor, my life was saved because the hospital quickly diagnosed sepsis and the antibiotics they used to treat me worked. As a result, I’m passionate about raising awareness of sepsis, and ensuring that effective antibiotics are available for every patient who needs them, both now and in the future.
Why is it so important to ensure the responsible use of antibiotics?
Antibiotics represent one of history’s greatest medical innovations and are the underpinning of all of modern medicine. Without antibiotics, everything from dentistry to C-sections to surgery becomes incredibly dangerous. What’s more, antibiotics are absolutely lifesaving for sepsis patients.
However, the more often that antibiotics are used, the less effective they become. Plus, there is a lack of new antibiotics being developed in the pipeline. As a result, we are facing a dwindling supply of effective antibiotics, combined with a shortage of new ones being created. That’s why it’s essential that antibiotics are not misused, and that we save antibiotics for when we really need them, like when we suspect sepsis.
You were just in Washington advocating as a Supermom. What do you hope you imparted on the lawmakers you spoke with?
My goal was to provide a personal story and put a human face to the fact that antibiotics save lives. And, I hope I helped to raise sepsis awareness through sharing my story.
What action would you like lawmakers to take to combat antibiotic-resistant bacteria?
We asked lawmakers to continue to fund programs designed to combat antibiotic resistance. The programs range from raising awareness among doctors and patients about the need for antibiotic stewardship to helping with the new drug development pipeline to limiting the use of antibiotics on factory farms.
Are there any takeaways from your recent trip to Capitol Hill you would like to share?
I first began working with Pew on the Supermoms initiative in 2013, and it was great to see how much the government, including agencies like CDC, FDA, USDA and NIH, and others, have mobilized around this urgent and global health issue. It was an honor to meet with representatives from many Congressional offices, and Senator Jon Tester of Montana even took the time to sit with my group of advocates personally to discuss the issue.
It was saddening, however, to hear from families of patients who, despite having conquered other serious illnesses like cystic fibrosis and cancer, were lost to antibiotic-resistant infections. And, it was concerning to once again realize the scope of this problem, which is global in nature and which threatens our ability to treat both simple and serious infections.
What can we do in our everyday life to combat antibiotic-resistant bacteria?
Save antibiotics for when we really need them, like when we suspect sepsis! Antibiotics are powerful and serious drugs, which we should appropriately to combat infections which could possibly lead to sepsis.
Click here to read Dana’s sepsis survival story.