woman holding head in pain
Sarah Biren
Sarah Biren
April 28, 2023 ·  5 min read

Sepsis: Woman, 24, dies weeks after getting flu symptoms

Bethannie Booth planned her own funeral before she was put into a coma. The 24-year-old primary school worker died from a condition called sepsis only a few weeks after getting a sore throat. She had called NHS 111 after she noticed red bumps on her face, but the operator told her it was probably just acne. However, she had no idea that she had contracted an infection that led to her death. Just a few weeks later, Booth’s family began to spread awareness of sepsis in honor of Booth, who they describe as the “most selfless and generous” person. Knowing the signs could save lives.

“I think I am going to die.”

Booth was in touch with her sister, Nia-ffion Davies, 27, the day she noticed the red spots. “She said to me that she didn’t feel really well, that she felt really warm to touch. Her throat was hurting a little bit and she had a headache.”

On March 5, Booth went to the Royal Glamorgan Hospital where the doctors realized she had strep A and collapsed lung. This led to her body developing sepsis, a life-threatening condition that happens when the immune system overreacts to an infection and begins to damage healthy tissue and organs. The doctors put her into a coma to help battle the condition, but before they did, Booth messaged her family members, including a text to Davies with all of her passwords plus the message: “I think I am going to die.” [1]

Image Credit: Family handout | Wales Online

Her other sister, Megan Booth, 25, said, “She took a video just before she went into a coma; she was messing around. I think she knew. She texted my sister that she thought she was going to die. It kills me that she felt that, she must have been scared, but she was still able to crack a joke.”

She even planned her own funeral in these final messages. Wayne Booth, her father, said, “She told us what she wants, how she wants it, how to celebrate her life. She doesn’t want the doom and gloom; she wants the happy colorful send-off as she was a hearty, colorful person in life.” [2]

After a transfer to Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital, Booth spent the next two weeks and a half breathing through an ECMO machine, an artificial lung that takes over the respiratory process. When her health improved, she went back to the Royal Glamorgan Hospital. She got to read the get well cards from the kids who go to the school she works at. However, while she was there, sepsis developed again. 

“If we can save one poor family…”

On March 31, she passed away surrounded by her parents and sisters. “All four of us went in to see her. We were holding her hand, and she took her last breath,” said her father. Her mother described her as, “so funny. So generous as well. She was the most selfless person I’ve ever met in my life.”

For her funeral, Booth asked people to wear bucket hats and colorful clothes and requested they play two of her favorite songs. “She wants people to celebrate her life,” said Wayne Booth. “She wants all of her friends to have a pendant with her ashes so when they go to raves, Bethannie is with them.”

Image Credit: Family handout | Wales Online

The family received many well-wishes and condolences from their community and people on social media. Koolers, a nightclub in Booth’s hometown of Merthyr Tydfil in Wales that she used to visit, dedicated a night to make a tribute to her. The family is grateful for all of the support and they hope Bethannie’s story might save other people from sepsis. At the time, she didn’t know that a rash that doesn’t fade when you roll a glass cup over it is a sign of sepsis. [3]

“If we can save one poor family going through what we’ve gone through, we’ve accomplished something,” said Wayne. “A sore throat is not always a sore throat.”

“If you feel like things are wrong, if you suspect that anything’s wrong, don’t let anyone tell you that there’s nothing wrong,” added Davies. “Get a second opinion if you need a second opinion.” She also thanked all of the medical staff who took care of her sister. “We can’t thank the doctors in every hospital that we went to enough. They did amazing work for my sister and for our family.”

More about sepsis

Sepsis occurs when the body has an extreme reaction to an infection. It’s life-threatening and should be treated as a medical emergency. Sepsis could cause tissue damage, organ failure, or death without prompt treatment. Infections that lead to sepsis often being in the urinary tract, gastrointestinal tract, skin, or lungs. Usually, sepsis comes from untreated bacterial infections but that can come from viral or fungal infections. Although sepsis is not contagious, the infections that lead to it are. 

Sepsis can happen to anyone but some people are at a higher risk. They include adults over 65 years of age, children under age one, and people who already experienced sepsis. Additionally, susceptible people can have weakened immune systems, chronic medical conditions like diabetes and lung disease, recent hospitalization, or recent recovery from a severe illness. [4]

It’s important to be aware of the signs of sepsis so they could be brought to the immediate attention of a healthcare professional. Sepsis works quickly and it’s always better to be safer than sorry. Symptoms tend to vary but they can include:

  • Extreme pain or discomfort
  • Shortness of breath
  • Weak pulse or high heart rate
  • Confusion or disorientation
  • Fever or feeling very cold
  • Sweaty or clammy skin
  • Blue, pale, or blotchy skin or a rash

Keep Reading: Doctors Still Struggle to Diagnose a Condition That Kills More Americans Than Stroke


  1. Lydia Stephens. “Young woman with cold and flu symptoms dies within weeks.” Wales Online. April 4, 2023
  2. Rowenna Hoskin. “Sepsis: Woman, 24, dies weeks after getting flu symptoms.” BBC. April 6, 2023 
  3. “Symptoms: Sepsis.” NHS. September 5, 2022
  4. “What is Sepsis?” CDC. August 9, 2022