To make a long story as short as possible for context, I was rushed to the ER while in cardiac arrest back in 2014. Heart stopped beating momentarily and lost oxygen to the part of my brain. None of the doctors were able to completely figure out the cause of what triggered the event, but I was ultimately diagnosed with two main illnesses which I want to focus on as they are the most significant to me in the calculation I want to get to, if that's possible.

I was primarily diagnosed with Sepsis and Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome. When I was discharged from the ICU, the ER doctor who treated me told me that when I was admitted, my mortality rate was over 80% (thank you so much to the amazing staff at my hospital, forever grateful!!).

I know he factored in the cardiac arrest and other issues I had when initially admitted, but I would like to know my likely/average/rough estimate/I'm-not-sure-what-correct-term (if there is one) mortality rate was, factoring in only the sepsis and ARDs. I read on Wikipedia (not the best source, I know...) that the mortality rate for sepsis ranges from 30%-80%, and ARDs is anywhere from 35%-50%. Is there a way to calculate some form of mortality rate from these two ranges? Or would it not make sense? I was 18 at the time, smoked ~half a pack of cigarettes a day, tad bit underweight (I believe I was around 120ish at 5'9", curse you ADHD medication!), but otherwise was a healthy male for being 18yo and stupid, if that makes any difference.

Thank you so much for your help, insight and expertise offered to a 23yo who is curious about what treatment, or combination of treatments, helped save my life 5 years ago!

P.S. For those wondering why I want to know some sort of figure for this, I'm writing a post asking those who are healthy and able to donate plasma to consider doing so, as I received a substantial amount of PRP treatments, as well as a multiple bags of donated plasma while in ICU. I knew I received this treatment, but I just read this research article by the American Thoracic Society, which was published on June 24, 2014 - less than 3 months before I got sick and was treated with this therapy. I wonder if my Pulmonologist who treated me in the ICU came across this article during his research, as he stayed up many nights during my stay reading case studies, and his first treatment he requested permission from my parents was therapeutic hypothermia, which I know is considered controversial/ineffective by certain medical professionals, so considering the fact he was trying everything he could to save me, I'm not sure if this PRP treatment for sepsis resulting in ARDs was also considered new (admittedly haven't read the entire paper!).

Thanks for your help!

  • 1
    Is your question "What is the mortality rate for sepsis with ARDS?" If so, the other details seem superfluous. However, I am happy to inform you that so far your own mortality rate is zero: nice work. :)
    – Bryan Krause
    Jul 18, 2019 at 19:40

1 Answer 1


An individual person does not have a mortality rate: it means the fraction of people out of a group who die over a specific time period. It may seem like your particular chance of dying is that same number, but it's not: the people who die with condition X may be sicker, have a worse case of it, have something else, be older, and so on. Although 80% of people with X may die, it doesn't mean you will die if you have X or that you have an 80% chance of dying with X.

I think you want to combine the mortality rates from your two conditions in some sort of mathematical formula to establish your own chance of dying in the past, in order to inspire people to donate to something you want to support. Two things: first, such a formula doesn't really exist, and second, such a number isn't really needed to inspire donations. Telling them how sick you were, how long you were in the ICU, and how great you are now are more likely to be inspirational.

Finally, no formula and no random collection of Internet people unfamiliar with your case could produce a better number than your own doctor did back at the time. If that doctor told you there was an over 80% chance of you dying shortly after admission, you can just tell people that number. If you're unsure of its accuracy and want us to confirm it's ok to state "I had an over 80% chance of dying", there's no need. Potential donors will be more impressed by "the very doctor who treated me told me I had an over 80% chance of dying" than the undecorated fact. Just stop saying "my mortality rate" because, as I mentioned, mortality rate is not the same as risk of dying, and your personal mortality rate is still 0 what with you not having died yet.

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    Thank you I was about to jump on the mortality rate and misunderstood application of statistics terms. Well said!
    – DoctorWhom
    Jul 19, 2019 at 15:42
  • Great answer. Only thing I would slightly nitpick is that sepsis+ARDS isn't really two separate conditions, rather ARDS is often a consequence of sepsis (and in nearly everyone with both they would be related, you'd be quite unlucky to be both septic and have ARDS caused by something unrelated), so it isn't necessary to call on a theoretical formula, there are studies estimating mortality for sepsis+ARDS, and that's probably what the physician was referring to in the first place.
    – Bryan Krause
    Jul 19, 2019 at 16:24

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