“My 21-month- old daughter Kyra was such a happy baby.
She was my only child at the time. She became poorly on Sunday 30th June 1996 while we were at a car boot sale. She had diarrhoea and seemed a bit off colour but nothing to worry about.
“As the day wore on we noticed she had a tiny spot on the corner of her mouth and she wasn't eating. My niece and nephew had chicken pox so we assumed she also had it and we weren’t overly concerned.
“Later that evening I noticed she was very hot but her hands and feet were freezing and she started vomiting too, but constantly wanted a drink. I decided to keep her in bed with me and her dad that night so I could keep a close eye on her, as I was very protective of her.
Perked up a bit
“We fell asleep and woke around 2am as Kyra had vomited again all over herself. So, we gave her a bath and I noticed that she had another spot on her head. But she seemed to perk up a bit, splashing about and playing in the bath with her toys.
“We put her back in our bed and we all fell asleep again. When I next woke up it was around 6am and I took one look at my little girl and she was absolutely smothered from head to foot in purple blotchy bruise-type things.
“I just shouted for her dad to go and call an ambulance, as I just knew she was seriously ill. She even had the purple things in her eyes. She was staring into space and not responding to me at all.
Never been so scared
“I’ve never been so scared in my whole life as I was at that moment.
“When the ambulance arrived they took one look at my baby girl and said we need to go now. Her dad scooped her up in his arms and carried her out to the ambulance. I kept her on my lap all the way there.
“When we arrived she was whisked straight into the resuscitation part of the hospital and she had eight doctors rushing around her, taking bloods and looking through books to try and work out what was wrong with her as they had never seen anything like it.
“I remember them telling me they were going to put her to sleep for a while and she looked up at me and said ‘bye mummy’ and said the same to her dad. That was the last time we would ever see our precious girl awake.
“We were taken to a family room and told by a doctor that Kyra was ‘quite well and was going to be okay’. How wrong was he! After two and a half hours of looking through books and making phone calls they finally found out that she had meningococcal septicaemia.
Specialist team on their way
“They came into the room and told us that a team of doctors who specialise in meningitis were on their way down from St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington to stabilise her and take her there, so we just sat waiting in the family room as they wouldn't let us in the room with Kyra.
“After what seemed like an eternity a lovely doctor named Simon Nadel came into us and told me that my little girl was critically ill and only had a 10-15% chance of survival. My world came crashing down at that moment. We were taken to say goodbye to her after they had managed to stabilise her.
“She was in a big incubator with loads of tubes and covered in foil and she was then taken in an ambulance with police escort over to St Mary’s Hospital. We went home to get some overnight bits and Kyra’s favourite teddies and followed in my parents’ car.
“When we arrived there my baby girl was hooked up to 15 different machines and had tubes coming out of everywhere. It was horrific and by this time her arms were going black up to her elbows and her legs up to the knees. They warned us that if she pulled through she would need to have them amputated.
In an horrific nightmare
“I felt like I was in this horrific nightmare. We sat with her, praying that she pulled through and we were then told we had been given a room over the road to stay in in a hotel just for parents of children who were in picu. We were told to get some rest and that they would call for us if anything happened. We were called the next morning and told to go over there ASAP.
“When we arrived it was like looking at a different child. She was so swollen from all the fluids being pumped into her little body and the rash had spread so much that almost all of her body was purple; it was the most horrific thing I had ever seen in my life.
“This is when we met Dr Habibi (now a professor). He had been called in in the middle of the night to try and help my girl fight this disease. He took us into the family room and said that during the night some things had slightly improved but others had got worse and that they had almost lost her in the morning, which is why they called for us. They had managed to stabilise her again but her organs were shutting down. They said that were doing everything they could to save her.
Willing her to get better
“My parents had arrived, as they had gone home the night before to get some rest, and we all sat with Kyra, holding her hand and stroking her soft hair, willing her to get better. At some point that late morning Kyra’s dad and I went for a little walk and when we got back we were told that her heart had stopped beating.
“They were giving her bucket loads of medicine to try and keep her alive but her little body couldn't fight anymore. All her organs had shut down as the septicaemia had poisoned her whole body and she lost her fight at around midday (the same time as she was born) on 2nd July 1996, aged just 21 months and 13 days old.
“At that moment I felt my life had ended. The little girl I had always dreamed of was gone, taken from me in just 44 and a half hours from falling ill.
“Back then we didn't know anything about meningococcal septicaemia but she had all the classic symptoms. Dr Habibi took us into the family room and went through everything with us, told us about this devastating disease and what it had done to our precious baby girl. He said my Kyra had one of the worst cases he had ever seen and how strong she was at trying to fight it but that her little body just couldn't take any more.
“I couldn't take it all in. I couldn't believe how I had this beautiful happy little girl one day and then two days later she was gone. She was my only child at the time and part of me died with her.
“I have four children now, three boys aged 18, 15 and 12, and my little girl is 6. None of them qualify for the men B vaccine and I can't afford to vaccinate them privately. I live in fear every day of one of them contracting it.
“I think all children should be offered the vaccine - it's not fair to only offer it to babies.”