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meningitis & septicaemia can kill in hours!

People who are faced with meningitis and septicaemia have to act fast to help save a life.

Jaxon Roy Kelly

Meningococcal disease at 2yrs and 4m

Meningococcal disease

Jaxon was 7lbs 12oz when he was born and we loved him from the first minute we set eyes on him.  He was blond like his dad and looked like us both with Chris’ eyes and my mouth.  He was healthy as a baby and also when he was a toddler.  Our extended family shared in his life; he was the centre of everybody’s life.  His grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins were very attentive and played a full role.

Jaxon loved football, but nothing was more important to him than Mickey Mouse.  When he was about two years old we took him to a Mickey Mouse Tribute Day.  He was mesmerised! Jaxon loved cartoons.  We also took him to Spain when he was five months old and he had also been to a baby concert when he was only around six months with his Granddad, or as Jaxon would have said ‘Grandra’.

The day Jaxon took ill (23 March 2011) he was at my mum and dad's.  Up until 4pm he was in good form but then he became a bit whiny, didn’t want his dinner and at 5pm he vomited then fell asleep.  We took him home at 6pm and he seemed generally OK but was still whiny, thirsty and had a slight temperature.  

From 6pm until 10pm his temperature was up and down, but he was responsive and chatted to both Chris and I.  We gave him Calpol and Nurofen alternately when his temperature fluctuated, and when we put him to bed at 10pm he seemed OK.

Jaxon slept from 10pm and at 4.30am his dad got up and when he looked in to see if he was OK noticed a purple rash over his face.  My first thoughts were meningitis!  I checked the rash with a glass and at the same time called 999.  Jaxon vomited again and when we changed his pyjamas we noticed the rash was also on his trunk and neck.   The emergency services were fantastic and arrived within minutes.  They gave him antibiotics in the ambulance and raced him to the Ulster Hospital.  

At A&E the doctors and nurses were awaiting his arrival.   He came around a bit in hospital and asked for juice and chocolate wheels but the hospital staff had difficulty stabilising him before transferring him to The Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children.  We followed the ambulance and as we arrived at the Royal he was already in PICU.  It was three to four hours before we saw him again.  We were told he was critically ill and every member of the family watched the minutes of the clock until 11am the next day.   

The lead consultant spoke to Chris and me about Jaxon’s prognosis at 11am and told us: “Jaxon would be very lucky to make it through the next two hours and even at best he would more than likely lose at least one extremity.” Needless to say the next two hours felt an eternity but when he made it through this period of time it filled us all with hope that he was going to be strong enough to survive and fight this terrible illness.

A short time later, however, a nurse asked if he had been baptised and since he hadn’t they called the chaplain who arrived immediately and carried out a lovely service.  It was now getting harder to believe that our little boy would come home!

The rest of the day we spent on a knife edge wishing and hoping that he would survive.   At around 8pm our extended families, who had been with us throughout the proceeding hours, headed home hopeful that as he had held his own for such a long time that he was going to fight through.   However, shortly before 10pm, after settling into our room in the PICU, we were given the devastating news that Jaxon's heart had stopped.   When I asked the nurse “was it over” she said “most probably”.

We both phoned our mums to tell them to come immediately. When we got to Jaxon's room they had just resuscitated him for the second time and as we watched as his heart stopped again.  We then made the heartbreaking decision for the doctors to stop.

Jaxon died at 10.12pm on 24 March – he was two years and four months old.   As a family we all got to cuddle him one last time and to say our goodbyes.

Jaxon's funeral was arranged for the Monday 28th March and we spent the next few days being comforted by so many friends, family and strangers.  This will forever be appreciated by us all as it helped us get through those difficult days. The day of Jaxon's funeral was, and always will be, the hardest days of our lives.   As a family we wanted to do him proud and we believe we did that by giving him such a moving send off.   We made sure there were little personal touches that Jaxon would have loved like the playing of his favourite Mickey Mouse song and the releasing of balloons.  Jaxon's funeral was attended by so many from all over Northern Ireland including a large representation from the football community.  He even had a guard of honour from the Glentoran under 17's (Chris’ football team).

I will carry Jaxon in my heart always and I know his dad does too.  We are all devastated by the loss of our beautiful, clever, loving, happy little boy who was just developing a wonderful personality.  The light in our life has gone out but I am so glad that he was our little boy, even for such a short time.  In his time with us we believe he did so much for so many.  He taught us how to love.  I am not very religious but I sometimes think that Jaxon is an angel who visits people when they need help.  I know Jaxon changed my life and Chris’.  I am so glad he was mine for two years and four months.

After getting involved with Meningitis Research Foundation I want to help make everyone aware of the symptoms of the disease and the fact that in the early stages Jaxon didn’t have a rash and not to wait for a rash but look for other symptoms.   If one child can be saved through our work with Meningitis Research Foundation we will be happy.

JOANNE KELLY

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