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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.

Lauren Wade

Meningococcal disease at 5

Meningococcal disease

It started on Sunday morning, the 7th January 1996. Lauren awoke at 7am feeling sick and with sore joints. She was five years old, so no panic to begin with, just a gut feeling. I took her into bed beside me; she was sick a couple of times and started getting delirious with a high temperature, so I rang the out of hours surgery to consult with a doctor, and told him my concerns.

The doctor arrived at the house about an hour later, and like most children Lauren had started to perk up a bit. He examined her thoroughly and told me not to worry, it was probably a gastric bug, keep an eye on her and if she gets worse ring the surgery back. He also told me to put her in a tepid bath if her temperature rose.

As the day went on Lauren got worse, was terribly sick, had a high temperature and was struggling to stand on her feet. This immediately rang alarm bells, as it was something I had been worrying about all day. I called the surgery back and was told the doctor was busy and it would be at least an hour before he could get to me, so I told the receptionist that I would take Lauren to hospital, as there was something seriously wrong with my daughter. The receptionist changed her tune then and said she would get the doctor out as soon as possible, but I said no because I didn’t want to wait.

We wrapped Lauren in a blanket and took her to Northampton General Hospital where she was admitted immediately. When we left home there was not a mark on Lauren’s body but in the 10 minutes it took us to drive to the hospital Lauren’s body was covered in a rash. The doctor gave her an injection of antibiotics, then all hell broke loose. Lauren became very seriously ill – she had contracted meningococcal septicaemia.

She was rushed to the children’s ward after many tests and two hours later they contacted St Mary’s Hospital in London where Professor Levin consulted with the staff at Northampton. They sent a retrieval team – which was headed by Prof Levin – to Northampton. They worked on Lauren for five hours before she was stable enough to be taken by express ambulance to London, at 8am on a busy Monday morning. I was not allowed to go with Lauren so had to follow by car, what a horrendous journey it was.

Lauren was on life support for eight days – she was given a 15% chance of survival when she arrived at St Mary’s. The worst days of my life. We had an even bigger shock the next morning as Lauren’s head had filled with fluid and she looked liked she had gone 10 rounds with Frank Bruno. This was very concerning as the staff didn’t know if she was now going to have brain damage because of the amount of fluid on the brain. We thought life couldn’t get any worse.

When Lauren was taken off of life support I will never forget, the first thing Dr Parvis Habibi asked her was did she know how old she was and she put five  fingers in the air and mimed her age. It was the greatest moment of my life – she had come through it all we were one of the lucky ones.

After a few more days in hospital we were allowed back to Northampton Hospital with a more leisurely drive back. Lauren left Northampton Hospital after a couple of days and was back in school a month later. She had to re-learn how to walk but like all children they soon bounce back.

Lauren has fully recovered with very little scarring and is a very happy beautiful 19-year-old . If there were any side effects from Lauren’s illness I would say that her concentration lapses very easily. Apart from that she is very healthy and very lucky to be alive, and for that I give my thanks to all the doctors and nurses that helped her.

After Lauren’s illness we as a family did fundraising events for St Mary’s and raised over £17,000. Just a drop in the ocean but we like to think it may have helped save someone else’s life. Thank you.

VALERIE WADE
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