South Seminole Hospital

Survivor of severe sepsis caused by flesh-eating bacteria shares his story as Orlando Health celebrates first ever World Sepsis Day – September 13, 2012

Hospital continues its Surviving Sepsis Campaign to increase early recognition and treatment intervention, and decrease mortality rates, and joins worldwide efforts to save lives


Sabrina Childress

ORLANDO, Fla. (September 14, 2012) --- Orlando Health celebrated World Sepsis Day by sharing a patient survival story, and by continuing the educational efforts of its Surviving Sepsis Campaign which began in 2006.

Joel VanderLey, a former patient who survived severe sepsis caused by necrotizing fasciitis (flesh-eating bacteria), and continues to recover after losing his right leg, shared his story during a videoconference held at Orlando Regional Medical Center (ORMC). The event, presented by Orlando Health’s Surviving Sepsis Campaign leadership team, was broadcast to clinicians throughout the organization’s hospitals.

Mr. VanderLey’s story began with what he thought was only the flu and severe leg pain, but turned out to be necrotizing fasciitis and life-threatening severe sepsis, and resulted in the loss of his right leg.During a visit to the emergency department at South Lake Hospital, doctors from ORMC examined him by way of robotic telemedicine and quickly discovered he had a lesion in the leg with suspected necrotizing fasciitis.After early recognition and early treatment intervention at the emergency department, Mr. VanderLey was transported to ORMC via helicopter.

“These steps dramatically increased his chances of survival of sepsis, and minimized the potential rapid spread of necrotizing fasciitis,” said Edgar Jimenez, MD, FCCM, chair, Critical Care Medicine, Orlando Health and member of the organization’s Surviving Sepsis Campaign.

The organization’s World Sepsis Day celebration also included a presentation to medical staff bringing together the latest research and clinical practice recommendations to increase awareness and strengthen tools for early recognition and early treatment intervention to reduce mortality rates.

The first ever World Sepsis Day is an initiative led by the Global Sepsis Alliance – a group of professional and voluntary organizations who have joined together to issue a call to action to bring the tragedy of sepsis mortality to the attention of health policymakers at a national, regional and global level.

About Sepsis

  • Sepsis occurs when the body has an exaggerated response to an infection (bacteria, fungi or protozoa). While fighting the infection, the body injuries its own tissues and organs. It may lead to shock, loss of limbs, multiple organ system failure and death.
  • Necrotizing fasciitis is an extremely dangerous infection commonly known as the flesh-eating bacteria.
  • Sepsis kills 258,000 people in the United States alone each year – one person every 2 minutes, according to the Sepsis Alliance.
  • The Global Sepsis Alliance reports globally, an estimated 20 to 30 million cases of sepsis occur each year.

“The need for public awareness is critical because many people are not aware of sepsis, or that any type of infection can lead to the potentially deadly condition,” said Edgar Jimenez, MD, FCCM, chair, Critical Care Medicine, Orlando Health. “It is astounding but true that the impact of something invisible can strike anyone, even beginning as a harmless elbow scrape, or a more serious medical condition like pneumonia. When it comes to having a heart attack, we know a quick response is important to save heart muscle. When it comes to having a stroke, we know a rapid response is critical to prevent brain cell loss. The same sense of urgency is true for sepsis, timely care is vital to preserving organs and tissue. We need to recognize and respond to sepsis using the same principle.”

About Orlando Health

Orlando Health is a $1.9 billion not-for-profit health care organization and a community-based network of hospitals and care centers throughout Central Florida. The organization, which includes the area’s only Level One Trauma Centers for adults and pediatrics, is a statutory teaching hospital system that offers both specialty and community hospitals. They are: Orlando Regional Medical Center; Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children; Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women & Babies; Dr. P. Phillips Hospital; South Seminole Hospital; Health Central Hospital, South Lake Hospital (50 percent affiliation); St. Cloud Regional Medical Center (20 percent affiliation) and MD Anderson Cancer Center Orlando – the first affiliate of one of the nation’s premier cancer centers, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. Orlando Health’s areas of clinical excellence are heart and vascular, cancer care, neurosciences, surgery, pediatric orthopedics and sports medicine, neonatology, and obstetrics and gynecology.

Orlando Health is one of Central Florida’s largest employers with nearly 16,000 employees and more than 2,500 affiliated physicians supporting our philosophy of providing high quality care and service that revolves around patients’ needs. We prove this everyday with over 110,000 inpatient admissions and nearly 690,000 outpatient visits each year. In all, Orlando Health serves 1.6 million Central Florida residents and nearly 3,000 international patients annually. Additionally, Orlando Health provides approximately $239 million in support of community health needs. More information can be found at