In July 2020, 5 year old Mason Montague took on a challenge of Superhero proportions. We spoke to his grandmother, Elaine, about why Mason is such a Superhero to his family.
In December 2016, Mason was staying overnight with his grandparents, Elaine and Stephen Blackaby. During the day he attended nursery school as usual, who reported that he’d been “not quite himself” and a bit lethargic. Over the course of the evening Mason began feeling warmer and warmer, so Elaine put him in a cool bath around 9pm.
Unfortunately, this didn’t help Mason’s rising temperature, so his grandparents decided to ring 111. They were told to monitor the situation and that someone would call back within 2 hours, but Elaine felt that 2 hours was too long to wait. She and her husband took Mason to the local children’s A&E, where a number of tests were carried out but all were inconclusive. Assuming that it was likely to be a viral infection, the staff gave Elaine and Stephen the choice of keeping him at hospital or taking him home overnight.
Believing that Mason would be happier at home, as many parents and grandparents would, they chose to take him back home. There, Mason had a drink of milk in bed but vomited shortly after, causing Elaine to remove his pyjamas to sleep in his nappy. Shortly after, Elaine spotted dark spots developing on Mason’s skin.
‘I shouted “It’s meningitis, we have to get back to hospital”’, said Elaine. ‘As a mum myself, meningitis is always something you feared. It’s one of those things that I would always be alert for.’
Immediately, Elaine and Stephen returned to hospital with Mason, ringing them beforehand to tell them it was meningitis. Antibiotic treatment began as soon as they arrived. Mason’s parents joined them shortly after, and the family were told that Mason had just a 50/50 chance of survival.
Mason and Elaine.
Elaine, Mason and Mason’s mother spent the entire month of December in hospital. On Christmas Eve 2016, Mason underwent a 6-hour long operation to remove both legs above the knee, his left arm just below the elbow, and the thumb and finger tips on his right hand. ‘We were so excited that they’d managed to save his right arm,’ Elaine remembers. ‘We thought he’d lose all his limbs completely.’