DeSantis Family

Brooke DeSantis and her husband, William DeSantis, with a photograph of their 5-year-old son, Lochlin, who died Monday after developing flu-related sepsis. The family wants to make others aware of the symptoms of sepsis to prevent other deaths.

Lochlin DeSantis started his Saturday morning by playing hockey with his older brother.

The 5-year-old Frederick County boy loved hockey, especially the Capitals, said his father, William DeSantis.

Just last month, William took Lochlin to a Capitals game in North Carolina. He had asked his father if they could go ever since DeSantis took Lochlin’s older brother to a game. They sat in Hurricanes territory, but that did not stop the boy, clad in a Caps jersey, from proudly displaying his team spirit.

“He started yelling, ‘Boo, Canes. Go, Caps.’ This little 5-year-old kid jumping up and down,” William DeSantis said Friday. “He’s so happy. Even the people around us, sitting around us were Hurricanes fans and they were cheering him on.”

Lochlin did not just love watching hockey; he loved to play, which is why he spent his Saturday morning playing, even though his legs were hurting. A little more than 24 hours later, Lochlin developed flu-related sepsis. He died on Monday.

Last Friday, Lochlin told his mother, Brooke DeSantis, a nursing student, that he did not feel well when she picked him up from school. He said his legs were cramped and his head hurt. He had a low-grade fever, Brooke said.

On Saturday and Sunday morning, he seemed OK. His legs hurt, but he did not have a high fever. But later on Sunday, he stopped drinking and eating. It was odd for Lochlin, who loved to eat, his mother said.

Brooke took him to urgent care, where Lochlin was diagnosed with influenza. Lochlin and his family were put on Tamiflu and sent home. The urgent care staff told Brooke to take Lochlin to the hospital if he got worse.

At that point, he could not walk from the pain, Brooke said. They had to carry him. But the pain and his symptoms matched those of being dehydrated.

On Monday, she took him to the hospital. They arrived around noon, she said.

Lochlin died at about 2 p.m. The flu caused him to develop sepsis, a life-threatening condition caused by the body’s extreme reaction to an infection.

“I knew before I even left the house to take him, I knew,” Brooke said. “I just had hoped maybe they could do something, but I knew.”

Lochlin would have celebrated his sixth birthday on Jan. 28.

A recent study estimates about 20 percent of global deaths are due to sepsis, according to an NPR article.

The Maryland Department of Health does not disclose pediatric flu deaths due to patient privacy, said Maureen Regan, a spokeswoman for the department. But it is unclear if Lochlin’s death is considered flu-related because he died from sepsis.

According to a handout provided by Frederick Health Hospital, sepsis symptoms include being sleepy or disoriented, extreme pain or discomfort, pale or clammy skin, shortness of breath, increased heart rate, shivering, fever or feeling cold.

Lochlin did not show the signs of sepsis, Brooke said.

“I never even knew the flu could cause sepsis,” William said.

Their son’s funeral is Sunday, but the family wants to start raising awareness of sepsis. They want parents to be able to recognize the signs of sepsis so they can request that physicians test their children.

“Because this flu season has been really, really bad,” William said. “It’s been really bad across the board. So I don’t want another family to go through what we’re going through right now.”

‘A laugh that would make anyone laugh’

Lochlin had a rock digging kit. One day, he spent an hour on the back deck of the family’s house, digging each of the gems out of it.

The next day, Lochlin brought the bag of gems to school, where he shared them with his friends, William said.

He played hockey and football, always accompanying his father to his brother’s practices. This year, he was going to start in a flag football league.

They called him Lochi or Lochi Bear, a nickname that he earned when he was 3. They went to the Thousand Islands at the border of the United States and Canada. While by a river, Lochlin reached down with his bare hands and caught a fish. He was like a little bear, his grandfather said at the time, and it became a nickname. Eventually it morphed into Lochi Bear.

He was a typical middle child, William said.

“He wanted the freedom of his older brother with the attention of his baby brother,” he said.

He was a “sour patch kid,” Brooke said. One minute, he was the sweetest child in the world. The next he was mischievous, with a smile on his face. He was always smiling.

“He had a laugh that would make anyone laugh,” Brooke said. “Even if he was in trouble, he had a laugh, like he had a smile on his face.”

Brooke and William plan to use some of Lochlin’s ashes to grow a tree in Baker Park, William said. The family is working with the city’s parks and recreation department to see if this can happen. One of Lochlin’s favorite places was Baker Park.

Raising awareness

Citing their son’s giving nature, the DeSantises want to raise awareness about sepsis, possibly through a charity. A GoFundMe started in Lochlin’s memory had raised $10,695, as of 7 p.m. Friday, $695 more than its goal.

Lochlin’s case was difficult, his parents said, because he went from looking like he was feeling better to becoming very sick so quickly.

“It seemed like within 12 hours it took over and it was too late,” William sad.

It was the flu, William said. So many people talk about the flu like it’s something that people get and just get over, he said.

Lochlin had not received a flu shot. Brooke took her children to get vaccinated, but where she went was out of the vaccine at the time. They had an appointment to get it before Lochlin’s death.

But the flu vaccine has not been a good match this year, according to health professionals, which makes it unclear how much a vaccination would have helped Lochlin.

For now, the DeSantises just want to get the information out about sepsis.

“We can’t get our boy back,” William said, “but maybe we can stop other people from losing [their child], and that’s kind of where we’re at right now. ... I think he would want us to do something nice.”

Follow Heather Mongilio on Twitter: @HMongilio.

Heather Mongilio is the health and Fort Detrick reporter for the Frederick News-Post. She can be reached at

(29) comments

dancing donna

Our sincere condolences. My good friends daughter was in the same class as Lachlan. Urgent Care and FMH need better training. Blood tests can and should have been run at Urgent Care.


There are no words I can say to bring back your son. I just lost a child from the same thSEPSIS, THE NEW SILENT KILLER

“AACC’S The Journal of Applied Laboratory Medicine, highlights the cuttin-edge clinical tests that laboratory medicine experts are developing to combat sepsis, a life-threading condition the kills more people in the U.S. than heart attacks every year.” This quote is dated Jan 2, 2019.

Sepsis...who has herd of that. I’m finding out not many and those that know the name don’t know the condition. Every year, not just last year, but every year, 1.7 million Americans get sepsis and 270,000 die from it! It kills more people than heart attacks. Why doesn’t the medical profession make us aware about it. Better yet, why doesn’t the medical profession know about it as in what to look for? That’s my question.

Sepsis is a life threatening condition caused by the body’s reaction to infection. It positions the blood. Within 12 hours, sepsis can lead to organ failure and death. It can also attack the brain.

CDC investigations revealed that sepsis begins outside of the hospital in four out of five patients. 1 in 3 patients who die in the hospital have sepsis. * One study revealed that only 40% of sepsis deaths were actually written as a cause of death, even though that’s what they died from. * Right now it’s reported that it takes 48 to 72 hours to identify sepsis. Sepsis shock can happen with in 12 hours.

Many people relate sepsis with the flu or an ammonia. Sepsis can come on with any type of infection. Flu, ammonia, cut, UTI, ANY INFECTION. Viruses like the flu can lead to secondary infections that can turn septic. Don’t associate it with only the flu.

There are three stages. Some people go through all three stages within 12 hours. Others, may take a few days. There is no specific test to say you have sepsis, however, having a few of these can , or should, indicate to health care people to be concerned. Yes, I know there are other illnesses that can mimic or have some of these symptoms . Is it worth a life to assume it’s something else? Fever, increased heart rate, rapid pulse, difficulty breathing, low blood pressure, rash, fatigue, peeing less than normal.

Caught in the very early stages, sepsis can be curable. However it is noted that, out of the survivors, complications with organs is not uncommon.

Sepsis is thought to be contagious by some medical professionals while others disagree. The condition that caused the infection may be contagious but not sepsis itself .

Who is at a risk to get sepsis? Sure there are studies saying one group is more common than the other but the truth is anyone is at risk.

*1 Center for Disease Control and Prevention. US Dept of Health and Human Services

I am writing this article on my own. There are many misconceptions of sepsis. Only loosing a loved one has made me aware of what’s the new #1 silent killer.



Carla, everything you wrote above is 100% spot on based on the research we have done as well. Our mission (as I’m sure is yours) is to get this awareness out to anyone and everyone. Now I found that the government has pushed hard over the last few years to get hospitals educated on sepsis however, most people only go to the hospital once it’s too late. Most people go to Urgent cares now, just as we did. So how do we make sure that urgent cares and the general public are educated on “the silent killer”?

We would love to join forces with you and really help drive this awareness and try to prevent any other families from going through this! Please reach out and let’s get the world talking about it!


I am so very sorry for your family's loss! How very tragic and heartbreaking. You did everything and more to keep your son safe!

It is scary how aggressive this year's flu virus is. My son was just battling with it for 2 weeks. I had no idea that the flu can cause sepsis. Thank you for creating that awareness!

I have come to the realization that any flu shot is still better than no flu shot!


I'd love to know how many flu related deaths have tamiflu in common as it's known to have had really bad side effects.


Tamiflu only helps relieve symptoms if you get it within the first 24 hours (max 48 hours) of your symptoms starting. My son went from "holy crap, I might need to take him to the hospital" to no fever, and no symptoms, a day within getting the tamiflu. He also had his flu shot, so I wonder if it works better in conjunction with that.


First I want to say thank you very much for the support from our community. This has been a devastating time for our family and really do not want anyone else to experience what we are going through. We are on a mission in our sons name to drive more awareness and get more information to the public about how the flu can have deadly outcomes. We are also looking to start a charity (once we figure out how to) in his name called “Love for Lochlin” to help with research and public awareness to treating the flu.

If there’s anything that we have learned through this horrible time it is; get educated, get vaccinated, and get tested (don’t just assume).

Thank you again for the support and please continue the conversation! We are not the only ones that are in this situation right now but maybe we can help prevent anymore families from ending up here.

-The DeSantis Family

Good read and information:


Please know there are thousands of people today who saw your story and are holding you in our hearts.


Bless you and may you find peace.


My son is also named Lochlann and we also call him Lochie Bears. Praying for you - my deepest condolences.


This family just lost a child. Chill with the flu shot talk. Let’s just give them our prayers and let them heal. I can’t imagine what they are going through.


My deepest sympathy on your tragic loss. Children are great to have around and they are precious.


I am so sorry this loss. Thank you for sharing to help others. Peace and condolences to you. Sending hugs and shared sorrow.


Braggs raw apple cider vinegar diluted with water. its extremely high in antiviral and antibacterial properties. It has knocked any virus out of me and my little one. Ill take it over a doctor any day. because it works


Such a tragic loss. Our thoughts are with his parents and loved ones.


What a huge service these parents are doing by sharing their story in the midst of their grief. I had no idea flu could cause sepsis.


According to a handout provided by Frederick Health Hospital, sepsis symptoms include being sleepy or disoriented, extreme pain or discomfort, pale or clammy skin, shortness of breath, increased heart rate, shivering, fever or feeling cold.

I’m sorry, but that is not terribly useful. Those are all common symptoms of everything from a bad cold to the flu.


That is one of the many reasons that it is critical to get a flu shot every year seven. Sepsis is a complication of the flu with rapid onset. In the 1918 "Spanish Flu" pandemic, many were well in the morning, but dead that night due to sepsis.

Comment deleted.

With all due respect jayel86, that is simply not true, and you are spreading false information that was disproved long ago. Yes, there is both antigenic shift and antigenic drift, but that does not make the vaccine completely ineffective. Look into the process for selecting the three most probable strains to include in any given year's vaccine. Every year is different. No vaccine is completely effective on everyone. That's why we rely on "herd immunity" as much as individual protection. If we increase the resistance of a disease moving through the population, that offers protection to those that are still susceptible.


Jayel86, The flu vaccine is not dangerous. It consists of several killed viruses that resemble the circulating flu viruses. The vaccine provides our immune systems with a head start before we are exposed to the live circulating viruses. About 30,000 Americans die each year because of getting the flu - mostly people who were not vaccinated.


Even though any given year's flu vaccine is generally only about 60% effective at preventing flu, it often reduces the severity of the illness in those that get infected.


I never plant marigolds near my vegetable garden and I never get elephants trampling my tomatoes.


Sad. God be with you in your healing.


Sepsis is awful. This is so sad. I hope the family will find the peace to go on.


Awe, so sorry to hear about this. RIP sweet boy.


I am so very sorry!

I had no idea you could get sepsis from the flu. Thank you for making people aware! Thoughts and prayers to you!


All of a sudden, I am hearing of this from a number of people who experienced it. I didn’t know it either - I wonder if there is more of it these days. And none of the people knew that they had anything other than the flu until it was almost too late. This is scary stuff.


There are many people who resist getting the flu shot each year not understanding how harmful it can be. I for years was one when younger until I got it one season. It took on average 1–2 weeks to fully overcome and if you have other non-related complications beforehand, it can become worse. There are still people who resist getting the shot for their young ones due to the old and unscientific rumors of potentially causing you to get the flu or other illnesses, which has been unsupported scientifically. Unfortunate.


The flu virus mutates too fast for them to ever get a proper vaccine. They will always be 2 or 3 steps behind.

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