Tattoo led to deadly infection, but mistake was not getting medical help soon enough

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GREELEY, Colo. -- An infected tattoo from an unlicensed artist, led to sepsis and death for a Greeley man, but doctors and family say his biggest mistake wasn't the tattoo.

Like many people who die from sepsis every year, Nemecio Benevidez simply waited too long before getting help.

Sepsis kills nearly 260,000 people a year, which is more than breast, lung and prostate cancer combined. It is a severe complication that can result from any type of infection, yet it often goes undiagnosed until it is too late.

For 52-year-old Nemecio Benavidez, embarrassment over a tattoo he received at a house party caused him to deny the obvious infection and sickness that began to set in days and weeks later.

“He kept saying, ‘I’ll get better, I’ll get better, it will be fine,’" said Lori Moran, Nemecio's ex-wife. "And it killed him.”

Dr. Mary Laird Warner is part of a Sepsis team at Swedish Medical Center in Denver. She says everyone should be aware of the dangers that can result from infections that are ignored.

“It doesn’t matter where the infection starts, it sets off a cascade of inflammation that causes organ failure and death,” Dr. Warner said.

Dr. Warner says anyone with an infection who starts feeling feverish, dizzy or short of breath should seek help and make their concerns known to doctors in a timely manner.

“Within eight hours your mortality is 50 percent," Dr. Warner said. "So you’ve got to get to a hospital early.”

“By the time he got to the hospital it was already shutting down his kidneys, his liver," said Sylvia Cruz, Nemecio's sister. “I just want to make sure nothing like this happens to anybody else. I don’t want my brother to die for no reason.”

Get more information about sepsis and what to look for here

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