It was Friday 8th April 2005 and an ordinary day; Leo was waking slowly in his cot. I was going shopping with my mum for the first time in the seven months since Leo had been born.
Jon was looking after the boys for the day (also Louie, then aged two and a half). Leo began to get a little grumpy and was breathing very heavily, making a snoring sort of noise. He then began to whimper a little and, after checking his temperature, we gave him some Calpol.
Breakfast was normal. He ate his porridge, had his milk and seemed pretty OK. Before I left, I looked at Leo and he had sleepy, drowsy eyes and I said to Jon at the time that I didn't think I should go. But I went. And I still feel guilty. I was 'phoning Jon throughout the day and he said that Leo was under the weather, very sleepy and he was going to keep him quiet and let him rest.
As I was paying for my shopping I got a call from Jon to say that Leo was very ill. He had changed his nappy at about 4pm and had noticed very dark, purple like spots around his groin area. Jon had immediately run to get a tumbler and, on doing the test, realised that the spots were not disappearing and knew something was terribly wrong. He bundled the boys into the car and raced to our GP surgery where they were beginning to close for the evening. He was seen straight away and on seeing the rash the GP ran for some penicillin and shouted for the receptionist to call an ambulance. The ambulance turned up almost immediately and in the ten minutes it took to get to East Surrey Hospital Leo was dead on arrival. They resuscitated him, but the speed of the disease had been ferocious. As I walked into the resuscitation room, the sight of Leo was almost too much to bear. He was bloated, very distressed and covered in this bright purple rash from head to toe. The paediatric team had managed to get a line into one of the main veins in his head but it had made such a mess. We were taken to one side by the paediatric consultant and had the news that you never imagine you would have, that your child could possibly die. The disease, he said, was unpredictable and fast.
We had to stay one step ahead, predict its course, pre-empt its turns. Leo was transferred at about 8pm to Guy's Hospital in London by a retrieval team of doctors and nurses that had come to fetch him. At this point he was in a medically-induced coma.