Mum saves son's life after spotting red mark tracking down his arm is sign of deadly sepsis

Mum saves son's life after spotting red mark tracking down his arm is sign of deadly sepsis

June 10, 2019

A QUICK-thinking mum has shared a photo after spotting a surprising sign of deadly sepsis on her son's arm.

Ewan Ruddy, eight, fell over on a trip to the zoo hurting his hand.

But it wasn't until a faint red mark appeared a week later that mum Alexandra Ruddy started to worry.

The red mark appeared to be tracking down a vein in Ewan's arm, raising alarm bells for the observant 41-year-old.

Doctors quickly conformed Ewan did have sepsis – a condition that kills around 15,000 people in England every year.

Alexandra, a law firm director from Jersey, said: "The littlest fell over at the zoo, he took quite a bashing but once we got home I cleaned him up.

"I rang school on farm school day to make sure he washed his hands after digging and I tried hard to ensure it was kept clean (hand and elbow). He’s an eight-year-old boy however.

“The wounds didn’t look infected- they’d got bigger so I was concerned but they weren’t gunky etc.

I took him down to the out of hours feeling a bit silly but when the doctor saw it he commended me on recognising it and getting down ASAP

"Yesterday on our way to the beach he showed me his hand.

“I wasn’t happy as I noticed red tracking down his vein. I then checked his elbow – the same.

"I took him down to the out of hours feeling a bit silly but when the doctor saw it he commended me on recognising it and getting down ASAP.

“This is blood poisoning/ sepsis.

"It isn’t something you can 'leave' until Monday when the doctors are back in the office.

“Thankfully the antibiotics are working and he is well in himself!

"If you spot this red line running from a wound along the vein get yourself/your child seen straight away.

"Hopefully my post might help someone the way my friend’s post from two years ago helped me.”

The picture shows a small red line going from the bottom of Ewan’s forearm and stretching to his wrist.

There is also a black mark on the red line which was made by the doctor and told Alexandra if the mark increased width, to bring him back.

Alexandra’s post has been shared more than 35,000 times and also racked up more than 14,000 likes.

There was also multiple comments from Facebook users who were glad Alexandra flagged this up to them.

Clíodhna Malorey said: “Wow scary, thanks for posting and glad he’s on the mend!”

Nikki Llewellyn commented: “Gosh, well done Alex for spotting it and getting medical attention. Glad Ewan is recovering well.”

Tracy Nicholl-Clarke said: “Oh my goodness, well done to you for getting it checked and for highlighting it, hope he's all ok.”


SEPSIS is a serious condition that can prove fatal if it's not treated quickly.

Go STRAIGHT to A&E if your child shows any of these symptoms:

  • looks mottled, bluish or pale
  • is very lethargic or difficult to wake
  • feels abnormally cold to touch
  • is breathing really fast
  • has a rash that does not fade when you press it
  • has a fit or convulsion

Get medical advice by calling NHS 111 if you notice these symptoms in your baby:

  • a temperature over 38C in babies under 3 months
  • a temperature over 39C in babies aged 3 to 6 months
  • any high temperature in a child thats shows no interest in anything
  • a low temp – below 36C after checking 3 times in 10 mins
  • struggling to breathe, looks like it's hard work
  • makes grunting noises while breathing
  • can't say more than a few words at once
  • breathing that obviously pauses
  • not had a wee or wet nappy for 12 hours
  • new baby under 1 month with no interest in feeding
  • not drinking for more than 8 hours (when awake)
  • bile-stained (green), bloody or black vomit
  • soft spot on baby's head is bulging
  • eyes look sunken
  • baby is floppy
  • weak or whining, or continuous crying
  • older child who's confused
  • not responding or irritable
  • stiff neck, especially when trying to look up and down

Sepsis signs in older kids and adults:

  • high temperature
  • chills and shivering
  • a fast heartbeat
  • problems or changes to breathing
  • feeling or acting differently from normal – not seeming like themselves

Septic shock can also cause:

  • feeling dizzy or faint
  • change in mental state – confusion 
  • diarrhoea
  • vomitting
  • slurred speech
  • severe muscle pain
  • severe breathlessness
  • less urine production than normal
  • cold, clammy and pale or mottled skin
  • loss of consciousness

To find out more, see the NHS website for info.

Speaking today, Alexandra said she knew the mark was something to act on, but didn’t realise the severity of it.

She said: “I wasn’t actually that shocked, but just didn’t think it was as serious as that.

“My friends told me to make people aware as the wounds weren’t very gunky.

"A couple of them wanted me to share it and it just snowballed from there.

“It’s an example of social media being used for good. Ewan was at school on Monday and then took part in a triathlon the following week.”

Dee Carruther, who set up Mannin Sepsis after her 18-year-old daughter died from the condition, praised Alexandra's quick response.

She said: “Most Mums will know when there is something wrong with their children.

"I think we’ve got to take it into our own hands and ask more questions from our doctors.

“It was called the hidden killer, but we’re getting better at spotting it and treating it quickly.

“People need to look out for the symptoms and go with their gut if they feel unsure.”

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