Rory’s Africa Project

Rory Staunton..The Boy We Lost
Let The Poem Speak For Itself

Rory Staunton Foundation, Sepsis Education, Awareness and Prevention


Wanted Urgently: ‘Human Skills’ in health care

In a New York Times article this week, it was reported that the airline industry is at its safest since the dawn of the jet age. In the last five years, the death risk for airline passengers in the U.S. has been one in 45 million flights. There are several reasons for this and according to the Chairwoman of the National Transportation Safety Board, the airline industry now has a “much more proactive approach to safety.”

Let’s compare this to the level of safety in the Health Care Industry where over 200,000 people die of preventable deaths each year. This is equivalent to 20 large jet liners crashing every week with no survivors. Why no major fuss? It’s because many people in the Health Care Industry consider these 200,000 deaths to be inevitable and there is a lack of public awareness of these figures.

Captain Sully Sullenberger, among others, has called for an independent agency, similar to that of the National safety-firstTransportation Safety Agency, to be set up for the Health Care Industry. It would be an excellent idea to have an independent agency monitor medical concerns, similar to the NTSB, an agency that is non-disciplinary, where problems could be raised and shared, where formal lessons could be learned. We believe this would prevent many needless deaths.

Captain Sullenberger speaks to the need for physician and medical professionals to be taught “human skills.” He defines human skills as leadership, as creating a culture of team building, as sharing input, as sharing a sense of responsibility and as sharing the feeling among a team that each member, regardless of their position, has a role in a patient’s care thereby maintaining an open channel of communication.

Rory Staunton’s death was preventable. Tragically, there was no open channel of communication in place during the tragic sequence of events that led to his death.

We have to learn from Rory’s tragic death. Safety begins in the boardroom with the Board of Trustees and administrators. It is they that can build a culture of trust and change. What is needed is a real culture of trust, not a pretend culture. There are many islands of good care but these islands need to have less water in between them.

Greater public awareness of these problems and better leadership is urgently required. In a recent interview, Captain Sullenberger says that the problem is systemic, huge and immediate. We agree.

His name is Ciaran. That’s his name!

Rory’s Nursery School teacher records his thoughts about his special Daddy when Rory was just three years old.
It’s your special day, Ciaran. We love you.
The world is not the same without you Rory…

Rory about Ciaran


A Quote from Rory’s Hero and America’s Hero

Sully pic“The facts tell us what to do and how to do it, but
it is our humanity which tells us that we must
do something and why we must do it.”
– Sully Sullenberger

My sister Derbhal, our Fairy Godmother

On Friday, March 30th, 2012 our world came crashing down. Fear, like we had never known before, took over our entire bodies. Rory was seriously ill. It was about ten o’ clock on that night that we first realized our boy faced the battle of his life, one that he ultimately lost, having fought it so bravely on his own. Our family gathered. Kathleen’s Fairy Godmother took a phone call in Ireland in the middle of the night. The following day, we turned around and she was there, having moved mountains to get aboard an already overbooked flight. She stood with us, cried with us, and loved us.

Our six word essay:
Derbhal Help! I’m here. It’s o.k.

Hurray For The Good Guys!

On October 26th, 2012 we made our way to the New York Academy of Medicine. We had been asked to address a Sepsis Symposium there being convened by Nirav R. Shah, the State Health Commissioner. It is always bittersweet to talk about Rory in public; on the one hand you want to talk about him forever, to tell everyone everything he achieved in his 12 short years and then on the other hand, time has not healed the gaping wounds in our hearts, so it is always, always, an emotional experience.

The 5th Avenue room was full to capacity and we heard from many, many, wonderful (and a few not so wonderful) doctors that have been working on sepsis awareness and research for many years. It was a humbling, enlightening experience. We had not spent time with Commissioner Shah before and from the outset he was very impressive. He sat throughout the seminar taking notes, listening intently. He seemed very sincere, very interested.Shah and Cuomo

At the end of the seminar he spoke, and he promised that, because of the critical situation we now face regarding sepsis, he would recommend to the Governor that New York be the first state in the nation to demand sepsis protocols for hospitals throughout the state. He would do this in honor of Rory Staunton, he said.

It was a memorable moment, again bittersweet. We wondered on the way home, and in the months afterwards, if it would happen. Dr. Shah and his staff assured us it would.

In his State-of-the-State address on January 16, 2013, Governor Andrew Cuomo mandated statewide sepsis protocols to identify and swiftly treat sepsis. New York State became the first State in the Nation to do this. It is estimated that these protocols will save 5,000 to 8,000 lives per year and reduce other tragic and costly consequences of sepsis.

Well Done Governor Cuomo and Commissioner Shah!

Living Rory’s Dream

untitled55Time passes but love never fades and though Rory has left us he grows
larger in our hearts every day. We feel his hand guiding us as we seek
to ensure that no child should lose their life the way he did.

Our son was first and foremost about fair play, decency and making
sure that those less fortunate were taken care of. We want to help
bequeath that legacy to the world, and we have begun that task with
great sadness but pride too that Rory’s dreams will live on.

This blog will mark our journey.

Thoughts of Rory as School Begins

Today is the first day of school for many…

Like previous falls-I too was preparing  myself-readying  to receive new students, new faces who will tackle a school year filled with learning. As  I was cleaning out old contents from my desk,  I came across a book, Three Cups of Tea.  Having already read the book twice over I was ready to toss it in the giveaway pile.  I can’t explain why-but I opened it as though it were the first time I had encountered it.  That’s when I saw it… an endearing inscription from Rory to me!

An avid reader, he had read it and had initially lent me his mom’s copy.  He was so enthralled with the book and its message-we used the book the following year in a division wide project.  Rory, in his generosity had bought me a personal copy from the school’s annual book fair.  Seeing his 5th grade handwriting-I was jolted.  Time and circumstance were suspended and he was right there with me on this first day of school.  I will always happily recall his 5th grade year.  It was a small class-but everyone worked hard, laughed heartily, and dreamed about how they would change the world.  This was especially true about Rory where every conversation turned to politics and policy.  I heard alot of “Why?” that year.  In our 5th grade world- Rory and his classmates believed in the future and trusted that they could indeed change the world. In between grammar and American history the magic of childhood and possibility took hold of all of us.

Holding that book in my hands again-was a bittersweet reminder of how privileged teachers are to have great minds and even better hearts in their presence everyday.  It was also a real reminder as to what has been lost.  That book has been placed lovingly on the bookshelf and will serve as a daily reminder of the awesome responsibility teachers have in nurturing young minds.  It will also bring to mind a certain young man whose determination to better the world could only be matched by his fiery red locks.

So, while students are receiving new supplies for back to school-this teacher so gratefully accepted this gift from a student who made his presence known to his teacher who will never forget him….

Stella Stenos

Drogheda Independent – Families say sad farewell to Rory


Posted on Wednesday April 11 2012

THE DEVASTATED O’Dowd and Staunton families came together on Easter Monday in The Church of the Immaculate Conception, Rathfeigh, Tara and then St Peter’s Cemetery to lay to rest Rory Staunton who passed away suddenly in New York last week.

A huge crowd of people attended the funeral and burial of the 12-year-old who was buried with his ‘ beloved grandmother’ on Easter Monday.

Rory leaves behind his grief-stricken mother, Orlaith, nee O’Dowd, father, Ciaran, and sister Kathleen, grandmother, aunts, uncles, cousins and ‘ international friends’.

His uncle, Neil O’Dowd who wrote movingly about the boy said he died after a toxic bacteria entered his body through a cut he received during a basketball match.

Rory’s father, Ciaran Staunton during a eulogy described him as his ‘pal’, never his son, who went everywhere with him and was an ‘unindicted co-conspirator’ in a number of escapades, including one where the ‘famously balding’ Ciaran got Rory to quiz a confused local barber about the wig which his father had ‘ordered’ weeks before.

Ciaran also talked about the Sunnyside community in New York where Rory ‘ grew up and prospered’. A slice of new New York where Irish/Jewish and all religious types mix readily, Rory attended bar mitzvahs, and his Jewish friends helped trim the family’s Christmas tree.

‘How Ciaran pulled it off, I don’t know. He has been so overcome with grief that I feared that he wouldn’t even make it to the church door,’ Neil O’Dowd added.

He also spoke about ‘ the love Ciaran and Orlaith had for each other which sustained them even during ‘ their dark night of the soul’ and how Rory left little love notes for his mum and how they chatted about college and his next big move in life.

Neil O’Dowd also talked about Rory’s sister, Kathleen, who is already missing her big brother and her hero and how brave she has been.

For Ciaran and Orlaith, Easter Monday and Rory’s funeral mass and burial were ‘ the last leg of a nightmare week that will be seared in their hearts forever’. Neil O’Dowd said he hoped that ‘Ireland and family there will work its magic, as if often does, and ease their pain’ at the loss of the son.