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Orlaith Staunton, Sunnyside resident whose son Rory died from Sepsis, in running for national ‘Women of Worth’ prize

Orlaith Staunton

Orlaith Staunton (Source: L’Oreal Paris)

Oct. 12, 2016 By Hannah Wulkan

A Sunnyside-based charity is about to get its moment in the national spotlight yet again and could receive a $35,000 injection.

Orlaith Staunton, a longtime Sunnyside resident, was selected as one of 10 finalists for the L’Oreal Paris Women of Worth contest for her work founding The Rory Staunton Foundation for Sepsis Prevention.

Launched in 2006, the contest recognizes women across the country who dedicate their time to philanthropic causes. Staunton was selected from a pool of over 6,200 applicants for her organization.

Staunton founded the organization with her husband after her son, Rory, died from sepsis, an infection that entered his bloodstream through a small cut on his elbow that he got while playing basketball at school.

Rory got the cut on his elbow on a Thursday, Staunton said, and was misdiagnosed as having the flu both by his pediatrician and doctors at the NYU Langone Medical Center, until he was finally diagnosed on Friday evening, when it was too far gone to treat effectively, and he died on Sunday April 1, 2012.

“After he died, we started trying to figure out what could have been different, and we realized that Rory shouldn’t have died if he was diagnosed earlier,” Staunton said. “I started thinking ‘what can I do so other moms don’t have to go through this awful pain and heartbreak?’ So we started our foundation to spread awareness of sepsis.”

Staunton explained that the main purpose of the foundation she started with her husband Ciaran is to educate both children and adults about what sepsis is, and how to spot the signs.

Sepsis is one of the leading causes of death in the United States, with over 250,000 people dying from it each year, but is not very well known. It occurs as the body’s reaction to an infection where it ends up attacking its own organs.

“We wanted to figure out what happened, because Rory was such a happy, buff kid, and we discovered he died from sepsis, but I had never heard of sepsis, and neither had anyone I knew,” Staunton said.

She said she did some research, and found that there was not a lot written on the topic, so she made it her mission to educate people about the symptoms.

“We need to educate people about the signs of sepsis so they know how to advocate for themselves,” Staunton said.

She was nominated for the L’Oreal award anonymously, and then went through an application process. By being selected as one of the ten finalists, she will receive $10,000 for her foundation. However, if selected through an online vote as the winner, Staunton would receive an additional $25,000 to go towards the foundation.

Rory and Ciaran Staunton (source: Pat Dorfman)

Rory and Ciaran Staunton (source: Pat Dorfman)

She said that she hopes to form a youth education program with the funds from the award, because “young people need to be aware that they need to watch any cut or infection closely.”

“If Rory had learned about sepsis, we would have sat around the table and talked about it, and then when Rory was sick I would have known the symptoms and to ask the doctors about it,” Staunton said.

“Orlaith’s cause spoke to L’Oréal Paris and our panel of judges because of the direct impact she made on a cause that affected her in such a tragic way,” said a Loreal representative. “The Rory Staunton Foundation works around the clock to ensure that no other family suffers the devastating loss that theirs did.”

“Women of Worth is so important because it lends a voice to a range of causes and the everyday women committing their lives to making a change. In addition to monetary support, L’Oréal Paris provides each Women of Worth Honoree networking opportunities, marketing support, and a platform to tell her story,” the representative added.

All ten finalists will receive $10,000 towards their charity and will be recognized at a ceremony in Manhattan on November 16. Each will have a chance to speak about their cause and explain its importance.

To vote for Staunton to win the Women of Worth contest and to learn more about her story, visit Voting closes on October 28.

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Mrs. Staunton, I’ve never forgotten your loss and think that your plans to educate others about this life-threatening condition is admirable. Best of luck to you!

Winston Wolf

People can down vote my comment all they want. Fact remains, fewer and fewer bright minds will go into medicine because of all this second guessing, thanklessness and malpractice lawsuits. You’ll be lucky to find a doctor at all let alone one that measures up to your perfect standards.

Fan Of Dough Boy Park

For someone to suffer like that and go out and try to make sure/ prevent others from suffering from the same pain takes a lot. A lot of people would ” cocoon” and stop . She is doing a great thing.

Wendy Boutilier

I had sepsis in 2008. It was an unexpected race to the hospital in order to save my life. I was lucky that there was a doctor who recognized Sepsis. Fast forward 8 yrs and I am living with a debilitating illness called Myalgic Encephalomyelitis. That’s Latin for muscle pain with inflammation of the brain & spinal cord. I beat one disease only to develope another. Sepsis caused the inflammation. There is no standard of treatment and no cure. I have serious cognitive issues. I’ll never work again and I have no social life. I think we should all be respectful of how hard doctors work. We can’t expect all our on call doctors to recognize Sepsis without educating them. The Staunton family chose to do something positive in the face of defeat. That takes a lot of courage & determination. Advocacy is a thankless job. I advocate for Myalgic Encephalomyelitis while the Staunton advocate for Sepsis. I know what it takes to be a part of change. Woman of the Year – you go girl !!!!!


No one is condemning doctors. These parents are trying to bring awareness to a silent killer, sepsis. Did you know that 60% of Americans do not know what sepsis is? They lost their son. They are saving thousands of lives. This is not the platform for that type of comment. Their goal is to educate the public to ensure that the know the signs – to start a more than critical conversation.

Winston Wolf

Doctors are human, they make mistakes. Is there anyone here who never made a mistake at work? No wonder decent minds hesitate to go into medicine these days. Maybe someone should address the ridiculously long hours many doctors have to put in. Who can stay mentally alert on a 36 hour shift?


The US has a high healthcare cost and also one of the highest malpractice rates. No excuse for that.


They sent home a dying child. These parents are working to fix systemic failings that allowed this to happen so that no other families suffers as they have suffered. They could easily retreat into their grief yet but have chosen to bring awareness and improved care to a condition that results in hundreds of thousands of preventable deaths each year. Your comment is callous and beside the point.

Winston Wolf

I find your comment callous. Maybe you should try being a doctor and show us how you never make a mistake.

Old Time Sunnysider

The woman is out to help educate people so that if they have less of a chance of being misdiagnosed. What a hateful thing to say to someone suffering grief and trying to prevent someone else the painful her family has endured. Nowhere does she place blame shame on you Winston.


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