After complaining of a sore throat only two days prior, on May 15, 1990, famed puppeteer Jim Henson woke up at 2 a.m.; he was having trouble breathing, and was coughing up blood. Henson agreed to go to the New York Hospital two hours later, and by the time he got there he couldn't breathe on his own. He had abscesses in his lungs.
After two cardiac arrests, he died the morning of May 16, 1990 at the age of 53 from sepsis. It is widely believed that Henson would have survived his bacterial pneumonia if he had gotten to the hospital just a few hours earlier.
The CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics estimates the rate of sepsis is only becoming more prevalent. For example, the number of times people were in the hospital with sepsis or septicemia (another word for sepsis) increased from 621,000 in 2000 to 1,141,000 in 2008. Fifty percent of people who develop severe sepsis die. The number of cases of sepsis and deaths from sepsis continues to increase in the United States. It is believed the consistent rise in sepsis can be attributed to the following:
- Aging population;
- More chronic illnesses;
- Increase in invasive procedures, immunosuppressive drugs, chemotherapy, and organ transplants;
- Frequent urinary tract infections, pneumonia, cellulitis, meningitis or a surgical procedure;
- Increasing antibiotic resistance;
- Increasing awareness and tracking of sepsis.