NORFOLK, Va. — What started out as a trip to the hospital to deliver a baby for one Norfolk mom turned out to be so much more - a brush with death.

On March 23, Kelsi Godfrey walked into Portsmouth Naval Hospital to give birth to her fourth child. She said it was a normal delivery.

Kelsi Godfrey

Jay Greene/WTKR

Kelsi Godfrey

"Everything was fine," she said.

But everything wasn't exactly fine.

"It happened quickly. The labored breathing started, my fever went up, my blood pressure dropped, heart rate skyrocketed," she said.

Her doctors found she had an infection.

"It was invasive strep group A and it had gotten into my bloodstream," she said.

Doctors performed an emergency surgery to remove the infected organ.

Kelsi Godfrey

Kelsi Godfrey

Kelsi Godfrey

But the timing was too late, she said.

"It took less than 72 hours and then I was transferred to Sentara Heart for complete septic shock, respiratory failure and cardiogenic shock," she said.

Godfrey would spend the next five days on life support, getting periodic visits from her husband and her newborn baby who did not get sick.

But that wasn't all.

"It did result in the loss of my left leg and my right toes," Godfrey said.

She finally got to leave the hospital after ten weeks.

"I barely made it," she said. "The doctors did not give me a good survivor’s rate, they basically gave me none, so I’m very thankful to be here."

The Centers for Disease Control report at least 1.7 million people in the U.S. develop sepsis in a year. It's fatal for at least 350,000 people.

Many cases develop while people are in the hospital. It's why the CDC recently released new guidelines to help hospitals build a stronger response to sepsis.

Sentara Norfolk General sees thousands of sepsis cases every year, according to Chief Medical Officer Dr. Michael Hooper.

"Sepsis is one of those diseases where prompt treatment has been proven to be necessary and essential for getting a good outcome for your patient," he said. "So for every hour, you delay and getting the right antibiotics on board, getting the right physiologic resuscitation of your patient, you contribute to their mortality risk. So we are very compulsive here."

He said time is of the essence when diagnosing sepsis, and his teams of doctors are ready to respond.

"Really working together as a team to make sure that we get that patient the appropriate antibiotics and treat their infection with surgical treatment or some other procedure if necessary," Dr. Hooper said.

The CDC guidelines are largely meant for hospitals and medical systems that don't already have solid plans in place.

Dr. Hooper told News 3's Jay Greene many of the guidelines offered by the CDC have been in place for some time at Sentara Norfolk General.

"There had already been significant sepsis guidelines published by professional societies and industry, Medicare and several other large players had had requirements for quality reporting that we were already following," Dr. Hooper said.

It's swift treatment that saved Godfrey's life.

"The choice I did have was to either let it take over me or I can take over it," she said. "I decided to fight."

At 31 years old, Godfrey said it brings a new perspective on life, and she's working to support other sepsis patients and survivors.

"If I can bring awareness and just save one person, losing my leg and toes [is] a hundred percent worth it," she said. "I would do it again in a heartbeat."

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