Clinical trial could help patients with sepsis

December 12, 2012

Right now, there is no specific therapy to treat sepsis, but a clinical trial at Cooper University Hospital could change that.

Doctors say if it works, it could save many peoples' lives. At least one woman believes it already saved her life.

Action News spoke with a local woman whose family enrolled her in the study when they thought they were going to lose her.

32-year-old Alicia Carnot is a busy, working mother, but two years ago, she and her husband took a break, and celebrated their five year anniversary with a 10-day trip to the Caribbean.

"It was a beautiful trip. I mean those Caribbean countries are just paradise, I mean it was amazing," said Alicia.

But shortly after coming home, Alicia got sick. After several trips to a local hospital and several misdiagnoses, she got worse. She had a high fever and chills.

"I felt like I was having a heart attack. I was very scared, really nervous," she said.

She was taken to Cooper University Hospital where doctors realized she was in sepsis.

She picked up salmonella typhoid fever on vacation. As her body struggled to fight the infection, her organs began shutting down.

She was put on a ventilator in an induced coma. Her family consented to taking part in a clinical trial.

"That was probably my only option at that point," said Alicia.

"This is called a hemoprofusion canister," explained Dr. Phillip Dellinger.

Dr. Phillip Dellinger says using the device, along with a dialysis machine, can strain the blood of toxins.

"We identify the toxin present in high levels in this life-threatening shock state due to infection, and then we take the toxin out," said Dr. Dellinger.

It is a blind trial so Alicia doesn't know if she got the real treatment or a fake one. But she says her husband says whatever it was, it worked.

"He said immediately when they started it, my color started to come back, my vital signs started to improve," said Alicia.

And shortly thereafter she left the hospital healthy and went back to being a mom.

"It's definitely a miracle," she said.

The clinical trial will continue at Cooper and several other centers nationwide.

Alicia works in healthcare and is now helping to spread the word about recognizing early signs of sepsis so that what happened to her doesn't happen to too many others.

Links to clinical trials:

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