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Harry C's story

6th January 2019

Little Harry had been off colour but seemed well enough to go on holiday with his family to Menorca. However, his condition deteriorated shortly after arrival and he was airlifted to intensive care facilities in Majorca

Harry C's story

Fortunately he made a good recovery, as mum Lauren, from Telford in Shropshire, recounts.

“It was 2012 and we were due to take our children – Oliver, then 7, Ellie, 2 and Harry, 7 months – on holiday with my parents during the October half term.

“Harry, our baby, had been unwell the day before we were due to travel; he had a fever and was generally unwell. We controlled his fever with Calpol and although we were hesitant we decided to continue with the holiday. We spoke to a pharmacist the morning we travelled to the airport and Harry's symptoms seemed better with the Calpol.

“We landed in Menorca and spent the first day getting to know our surroundings. Harry seemed a little better with the Calpol but when it wore off he would continue to spike a fever and was unwell.

Developed a nasty cough

“During the second day of our holiday Harry developed a nasty cough. Worried it could be a chest infection we decided to take him to the doctor and were advised by the holiday reps where to go. It was late at night and the local doctor referred us to a private hospital to investigate if Harry's cough was bacterial or viral (something that isn't common practice in the UK).

“Looking back I hadn't really appreciated how pale Harry was in colour (he was almost grey when I look back at pictures). He was sleepy by this point, but it was late so I put it down to him being tired. He had also been sick after his bottle, but again at that point I didn't think too much of it.

“After some tests a nurse came to find us to tell us that Harry had bronchiolitis and they were putting a line into him to start antibiotic treatment. As she started his eyes rolled back in his head and he collapsed. She shook him, shouted "baby" and ran with him.

An agonising wait

“At this point I was hysterical. I thought he had died! An agonising wait followed. The language barrier was hard but eventually a doctor came out to tell us he had been stabilised and we could see him, but he collapsed again and was again rushed away.

“The one thing I will never forget about that night is the female doctor in charge of his care. She put her hands on my shoulders and said, "Tonight your son is my son and I will look after him".

“Once stabilised Harry was transferred to a larger hospital. After about a day, to my surprise, I was told they were carrying out a lumbar puncture. I was unsure why as the word ‘meningitis’ hadn't been mentioned. After the lumbar puncture we were told to prepare for the worst, as the sample was cloudy. As predicted, the sample came back positive and he was transferred by air ambulance to Majorca, as there are no intensive care facilities in Menorca.

Jumped on the first flight

“We were due to travel with him by plane but had to change our plans when the plane wasn't available and he was transferred by helicopter and there wasn't room for us. The Red Cross were a godsend and had sorted a hire car for us. We drove back to out hotel, kissed our other babies bye, leaving them with my mum and dad, grabbed some essentials for Harry and with the help of the holiday reps jumped on the first connecting flight available.

“Harry spent a total of three weeks in Son Espaces Hospital (about half of that in intensive care). Not a day goes by where I am not grateful for everybody involved in Harry's recovery. Personally, I believe it’s due to the fact he was treated so quickly and efficiently that he is here today. I owe the medics everything! I remember the moment he first started playing with his teddy – a sign that he had turned the corner.

“During our time in hospital we were also supported by a Tui clinic rep, Julie, who was my guardian angel. She comforted us, fed us, kept us sane. I remember thinking to myself I wasn't going to bring my baby boy home. Our family had already been through the tragic loss of our second son, who had a congenital heart defect, and I couldn't believe history was repeating itself.

No rash

“There was no rash! I want everyone to know not to wait for a rash, know the symptoms and follow your instincts. It terrifies me how quickly Harry went from having a ‘normal’ illness to being at death’s door.

“Harry has no developmental issues and is a bright little boy who is excelling. He lights up our world! I just wish everybody’s story with this horrible illness ended the same way.”