Indiana family works with lawmakers to pass Josslyn’s Law to help prevent sepsis

BLACKFORD COUNTY, Ind. – "She just laughed all of the time," described Jessica O'Hern, of Hartford City. "She loved being in front of the camera."

O'Hern's mother, Jaundice Bowman radiates when describing baby Josslyn Gee.

"She was very lively. She would always play games," Bowman beamed when talking about her granddaughter.

Mom and nana tell FOX59 that Josslyn lived up to her name and an album full of pictures show a happy, joyful baby girl. But like all babies, O'Hern says her first born and only child did get sick.

"She had a fever the night before," the mom recalled. "I gave her Tylenol and started to go to the emergency room, but her fever went down so I thought it wasn't anything serious."

It's one reason neither woman expected what happened to Josslyn just hours later.

"When I looked over, she was very stiff," grandma choked up with tears welling up in her eyes. "And I knew there was a problem. And I picked her up, and I knew she was gone!"

The 18-month-old died overnight from sepsis.

O'Hern says a coroner who performed an autopsy told her only a test would have picked up her daughter's life-threatening condition, caused by an infection.

"I went against my gut, and it cost her her life. She's not here," the mom lamented to FOX59's Beairshelle Edmé.

According to Mayo Clinic, the signs and symptoms of sepsis include a high heart-rate, low blood pressure, difficulty breathing and even a fever, which Josslyn had.

Antibiotics and IVs can treat sepsis, but every two minutes someone dies from it and the CDC says that's about 270,000 people every year.

Researchers found it is one of the leading causes of hospital deaths, with 33 percent of patients having sepsis when they die.

"I didn't—who would expect that," asked Bowman when discussing her granddaughter's autopsy results.

Josslyn's Law wants to make sure Hoosiers and their healthcare provider can expect and prepare for sepsis.

Her family took their story to Representative Kevin Mahan (R- Blackford County) and together wrote a bill, which was signed in May by Governor Eric Holcomb (R).

Josslyn's Law sets up two things:

  • Sepsis screening guidelines for all Indiana medical facilities
  • A sepsis state task force, which will provide recommendations to the Indiana State Department of Health on best practices for diagnosing and treating the condition

"Her name... people are going to know her name," Josslyn's mom said. "And I know that this bill is going to affect so many people and it's going to save lives."

Friday will mark four years since Josslyn died, and her family and the sepsis Alliance wants Hoosiers to remember it's all about "TIME".

Notice: you are using an outdated browser. Microsoft does not recommend using IE as your default browser. Some features on this website, like video and images, might not work properly. For the best experience, please upgrade your browser.