Sepsis may be the official cause of the death of 69-year-old Oscar winner Patty Duke, but the actress was also a manic depressive survivor who did her best to destigmatize mental illness in her lifetime. So the former Helen Keller character was no stranger to pain and suffering, as her son Sean recently told Entertainment Tonight during an on-camera interview on March 30.
According to Sean, his mother “suffered terribly” before she died following a ruptured intestine. And now Duke’s son is trying to follow in his mother’s altruistic footsteps by educating the public about how she died–and the degree of pain involved, so others can learn about this illness that is growing and take action to prevent it claiming their life.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta state that sepsis is the “overwhelming and life-threatening response” to an infection and that due to an aging population in the United States the number of sepsis cases is on the rise. And when it comes to disease-related deaths, sepsis is the ninth leading cause here in America.
In Duke’s case, her sepsis resulted from a ruptured intestine, but there are a myriad of ways sepsis can result including occurring after a minor infection from a scrape or cut on the body, which is not cleaned properly. Flu, pneumonia and other infections have the potential to lead to sepsis, too, so the CDC recommends people get vaccinated against these to help prevent the possibility of getting sepsis. In addition, those with chronic diseases like AIDS, cancer, diabetes, and liver or kidney disease are susceptible to getting sepsis.
In other words, anyone can get sepsis as a result of a bad infection or even a burn wound, so no one is really immune to the possibility. And those who are elderly, very young or experiencing serious health concerns already are more at risk for this type of problem.
Over a million cases of sepsis occurs annually with the CDC stating that up to half of those who get sepsis will die from it, making this a serious issue. Tissue damage, organ failure and death can result from this insidious disease, so it is imperative to practice good hygiene and to thoroughly and properly clean any scrapes or wounds one has in addition to watching for these sepsis signs: fever, chills, rapid breathing and/or heartbeat, rashes, confusion or disorientation.
Patty Duke did not die from her long-term mental illness, as so many other manic depressive sufferers before her did, like Robin Williams and Ernest Hemingway. But her son still has seen fit to continue her campaign of awareness about this debilitating disease of the mind, establishing a fundraiser for the Patty Duke Mental Health Project because he says he sees his mother as a “warrior” most of all. And while he feels strongly about keeping her advocacy for mental health awareness alive, he also feels the need to speak out about the danger of sepsis as well, helping shed light on just how life-threatening this illness is too.