It can strike at any time and the consequences can be tragic. Jamie Bowman meets the man determined to raise awareness of sepsis after he lost his wife to the condition...

At least 150,000 people each year suffer from serious sepsis in the UK. Worldwide it is thought that around three in a 1,000 people get sepsis each year, which means that 18 million people are affected.

Previously known as septicaemia or blood poisoning, sepsis is the body’s reaction to an infection and means your body

attacks its own organs and tissues. It can move from a mild illness to a serious one very quickly, leaving patients and their relatives bewildered at why a viral illness or a minor injury can turn into something so serious.

One man who knows what a terrifying experience this can be is Rob Pugh, who earlier this year lost his wife Kim to an illness which can strike at any time.

"We met when we were both working in the Kwik Save in Johnstown," remembers Rob, 30, of Ruabon. "I always joked she was the last person there I tried but we got together on a Christmas works do and were together ever since. "About a year after that she had to quit work because she had so many health problems but she was so funny with an incredible sense of humour even with all that she went through."

Little is known about why sepsis causes the body to respond in the way it dies especially as oftenpeople who get sepsis are in good health and do not have any long term illness. Most cases of sepsis are caused by common bacteria which we all come into contact with every day without them making us ill. Sometimes, though, the body responds abnormally to these infections, and causes sepsis.

"Kim broke her ankle about 12 years ago and I think it all stemmed from there," says Rob. "About two months after that she was critical in hospital and was diagnosed with Evans Syndrome - a very rare autoimmune disorder in which the immune system destroys the body's red and white blood cells.

"I'd only been with her a few months when this happened so I've only really known her when she's been unwell. It's so rare that her doctor came out of retirement for Kim so he could help her and find out more about it."

Kim suffered with joint pain and a loss of eyesight over the next few years as the illness began affecting her whole body. She developed Chrones disease and caught Leigonairres disease ("her immune system was basically gone," says Rob. "You could write a book on the things she caught.")

Rob and Kim tied the knot in May last year in a memorable ceremony in Cyprus. Kim was forced to wear dark glasses throughout but was determined to look her best on the day.

"She struggled all year," says Rob. "But she didn't have a bad Christmas and was scheduled to have a historectomy which she had in January. There were a few complications but she caught an infection and had to go to hospital. They couldn't find the infection and she was desperate to come home and lie in her own bed. She fought and fought and didn't let it get her down - she would talk to other sufferers on Facebook and help them and give them advice. She was very thoughtful."

Kim passed away on February 17 this year, aged 34, with Rob at her bedside. "The doctors said they had done everything they could and would have to let her go. They took her breathing tube out and she passed away three minutes later. It was a horrendous time."

Around 1,000 people came to Kim's funeral which proved a huge comfort for Rob and the couple's 10-year-old son Jayden.

"We still didn't know the cause of death," says Rob. "We went to see her doctor and he explained that she died from overwhelming sepsis. It went through her body like wildfire.

"She'd had it before after our son's birth but she could manage to fight it back then and it wasn't as bad. It's something that you really can't do that much about even if you're clued up about it. Nothing could have prepared her or us for what happened."

Rob is now determined to raise more awareness about sepsis with a number of charity events planned for later this year including a football match between Cefyn Rangers and a team put together by Rob himself as well as a darts marathon.

"You just keep going and if I could name everyone who has supported me I'd be here all day," added Rob. "All the family and friends have been amazing. I play darts and everyone in the darts league has been great as well. Jill was born and bred in Ruabon and was so well known and the community has really come together. She is missed very much."

Rob Pugh's XI vs Cefn Rangers XI takes place at 2.30pm on Saturday, June 23 at The Bont Field, Acrefair. All proceeds will be donated to the UK Sepsis Trust.