KUSA — For more than 40 years, life as Christine Lentz knew it was happy, healthy and fast-paced. A wife and mother of three boys, she and her family were always on the go.
That was until an infection stopped her in her tracks following a routine abdominal procedure in November 2013.
“A few days after I went home, I started feeling ill," she said. "At that point I went and saw a doctor and was diagnosed with the flu.”
Within a few days, Lentz’s health took a turn for the worse and she went into septic shock.
Turns out, Lentz had developed sepsis, an infection in the bloodstream that had spread through her entire body.
It’s a medical condition that can compromise vital organs, and if left untreated, can lead to death.
It’s a condition Lentz knew nothing about, and it nearly claimed her life.
“I was in and out of consciousness for about three weeks. I remember looking down and noticing my arms were black, but then would fall back asleep," she said.
Lentz was treated by doctors at Presbyterian St. Luke’s Medical Center with antibiotics that ultimately saved her life and kept her vital organs from failing.
But unfortunately, due to a lack of blood flow, her major limbs could not be saved.
Doctors had to amputate the lower part of her arms and legs.
“She was very ill when she came in,” said Dr. David Schnur, plastic surgeon at Presbyterian St. Luke’s Medical Center. “Once the critical part of her illness was over, we started working on making her whole again by removing any of the unhealthy extremities and fitting her with prosthesis… and she’s done really great,”
After a 7 month hospital stay and years a rehab, Lentz said she is grateful her life was spared from an infection that kills 3,000 Coloradans, and 250,000 Americans each year.
According to a survey by Coalition for Sepsis Survival, less than 50 percent of the general public has ever heard of sepsis, or understands what it is.
Also known as ‘blood poisoning’ sepsis cost Colorado hospitals $545 million in 2012.
“When doctors told me I had sepsis, I had never heard of it,” Lentz said.
Moving forward, Lentz has made it a goal to spread awareness and make sure others are educated. She has teamed up with the Coalition for Sepsis Survival.
“It’s my goal and my mission- not to be angry, but to use my energy going forward to bring awareness and help with prevention,” Lentz said “If people just recognize the symptoms and know this it out there, it will make a difference.”
Back in 2013, Gov. John Hickenlooper declared Sept. 13th “Sepsis Awareness Day.”
Doctors say the elderly are most at-risk for developing sepsis, though anyone can contract it. Doctors say early detection is key to fighting and recovering from sepsis.