Real Stories

Mum Shares Heartbreaking Journey of Losing her 8-Week-Old Daughter to Sepsis


Trigger warning: On Saturday 19th November at 1:53pm, 8-week-old Raevyn Harper – the beautiful little girl in the picture above – grew her angel wings.

The brave newborn was diagnosed with a heart condition in utero, and, tragically contracted sepsis at one-month-old during the surgery. For the past month, her loving parents have been by her side, watching their firstborn baby deteriorate.

Raevyn Harper Sepsis Heart Failure
Raevyn with her mum, Storm and dad, Jarred. Source: GoFundMe

Her parents, Gladstone couple, Storm Petersen and Jarred Harper document Raevyn’s brave battle on a GoFundMe account showcasing just how quickly sepsis can turn deadly.

Two rare heart conditions

Storm was 19 weeks pregnant when she first discovered Raevyn had two rare and complex heart conditions. Raeyvn was born in late September and her parents were absolutely besotted with her.

mum central
Source: GoFundMe

However, when Raeyvn was three weeks old, her parents noticed she was not waking, had shallow breaths, and wasn’t feeding. They rushed her to the ED at the Queensland Children’s Hospital where Raevyn had an x-ray, showcasing there was fluid around her heart, and lungs, and her liver was inflamed.

She was in heart failure. 

Raevyn Harper Sepsis Heart Failure
Raevyn has spent the majority of her short life in hospital with her parents by her side. Source: GoFundMe

You are my sunshine

One week later, on Raevyn’s one-month birthday, she was scheduled for heart surgery.

As Storm writes,

We spent the morning reading Doctor Seuss books and singing ” You are my sunshine”. At 8am, she was taken down to the surgical ward to await her Heart Surgery. 
10 hours later we got the phone call and awaited to talk to her surgeon. He explained the surgery was a success which was a relief but that would only be the single good news we were to ever receive from that point forward.”

An aggressive form of sepsis

The next day things took a turn for the absolute worse. Raevyn’s blood pressure kept dropping so the newborn was placed on an Echmo/Bypass machine.

This is when doctors discovered a bleed in the airways/lungs and needed to support both heart and lungs to prevent the heart from any more damage.

Just four hours later the doctor dignosed Raevyn with an aggressive form of sepsis.”

Sepsis is the body’s extreme response to an infection. Sepsis occurs unpredictably and can progress rapidly. In severe cases, one or more organ systems fail. In the worst cases, blood pressure drops, the heart weakens, and the patient spirals toward septic shock.

Raevyn Harper Sepsis Heart Failure
Source: GoFundMe

Sadly, this is what was happening to Raevyn. The sepsis had progressed terribly fast, leading to liver and kidney failure and blood clotting problems. She was given multiple blood transfusions and dialysis to attempt to save her.

Sadly, due to the low blood flow, Raevyn’s little fingers, hands, feet, and toes turned black and purple and began to shrivel up.

Raevyn was going to lose all her limbs.”

mum central

mum central
Source: GoFundMe

Zero chance of survival

For the next three weeks, Raevyn remained in the hospital as doctors urgently tried to stop the damage. However, testing showed that Raevyn’s body was failing – especially her lungs.

As of the 18th of November, Raevyn had one last Bronchoscope to assess her airways, but the respiratory person was unable to reach her left main stem and her right main stem to the airway. My Raevyn’s airways were Icteric/ Nercotic. They could barely see a remnant to her left main airway.
I was told that our sweet Raevyn had a zero chance of survival.”
mum central
Saying goodbye to their little girl. Source: GoFundMe
Storm shared her final update the next day, announcing the heartbreaking passing of her daughter on 19 November.
She fought every single day of her precious life and is the bravest and strongest little girl I’ll ever get to know. She was the sunshine who lit up our whole lives but now without her present, her dad and I feel so dark amd bloomy. She will never be forgotten our Raevyn.”
mum central
Source: GoFundMe
Since Raeyvn’s death, Storm and Jarred have been left trying to piece together what happened. As Storm tells 7News,
We didn’t know anything about sepsis. We didn’t know the risks or what it could possibly do and how severe it could be. We’re emotionally broken. We’re still looking for answers as to how and why.”

Our hearts break for Storm and Jarred as they navigate this tragic outcome. Raevyn’s funeral is arranged for 19th December and so far, over 250 people have donated $10,000 to help pay for the service.

You can read more and donate through GoFundMe.

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Avatar of Jenna Galley

Born and raised in Canada, Jenna now lives in Far North Queensland with her tribe. When the mum-of-three is not writing, you can find her floating in the pool, watching princess movies, frolicking on the beach, bouncing her baby to sleep or nagging her older kids to put on their pants.

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