NORFOLK, Va. (WVEC) -- A critical-care physician at Eastern Virginia Medical School (EVMS) believes he found a simple, inexpensive cure for sepsis.
Sepsis is a condition that leads to multiple organ failure. It is estimated that nearly 8 million people die each year from the disease.
The breakthrough moment for Dr. Paul Marik, the Chief of Critical Care at EVMS, came in 2016.
Dr. Marik was running the general intensive care unit at Sentara Norfolk General when a 48-year-old woman was admitted with a severe case of sepsis.
"Her kidneys had failed, her lungs had failed, I just knew she was going to die," said Dr. Marik.
The available treatment options were running out.
It just so happened that a few weeks earlier, Dr. Marik read about Vitamin C as a possible treatment for sepsis.
Septic patients are said to have little or undetectable levels of Vitamin C in their cells.
Keeping in mind that Vitamin C and steroids work similarly, Dr. Marik asked his staff to combine the two and inject them into the patient intravenously.
The results were unexpected.
Within hours, the patient was reportedly recovering. Within two days, Dr. Marik gave her an 'ok' to leave the ICU.
In the following days, two more patients, who were seemingly destined to die of sepsis, received this treatment. Twice more the patients recovered.
The treatment became standard for Dr. Marik and his team began. Later, thiamine was added into the mix, as sick patients often are deficient in thiamine (thiamine helps cells absorb vitamin C).
To validate the findings that many called 'too good to be true', Dr. Marik and his staff teamed up with scientists at Old Dominion University.
The results: confirmed, according to Dr. John Catravas, the Interim Executive Director and Sentara Endowed Chair of the Frank Reidy Research Center for Bioelectrics at ODU.
Next step: further research across a much larger patient population.
Dr. Marik says his 'cure' provides no side effects. He hopes other physicians and doctors begin using his method before the results of the trials conclude.
"This is an intervention that is readily available, cheap and has the potential to save millions of lives," said Dr. Marik.