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Leighton’s story

15th October 2015

On July 30th 2013 18-month-old Leighton, from Kirkby in Liverpool, was struck down with meningitis and septicaemia

Leighton’s story

His parents were told to expect the worst when he was transferred between hospitals but, after a week on life support, he went on to make a full recovery.

Parents Kevin and Nicola tell their story.

“Leighton woke up at 7am and was crying, very clingy and sleepy, not his usually self at all. He'd had tonsillitis the week before and we thought he was still getting over that. He was burning and hot to touch but his hands and feet were freezing and he began to bring up orange and green bile.

“We stripped him off and noticed he had a pink pimple-like spot on his tummy. When we pressed it, it didn't clear, but as it was pink so it didn't overly concern us. But we still didn't feel comfortable with the way he was so we phoned the NHS helpline, who advised us to take him to hospital as quickly as possible.

Perked up a little

“Once we arrived at Ormskirk Hospital he seemed to perk up a little. He was seen by the triage nurse and we were told to wait while he was given small amounts of liquids and monitored. A few more little pink spots came out but it wasn't the deep purple rash that you know about and we thought it was some sort of viral infection that he'd had before.

“They took bloods and moved us on to the ward for further monitoring. He became very sleepy and floppy and a nurse checked him and a doctor was called. She decided to begin the antibiotics for meningitis as a precaution instead of waiting any longer and Leighton was hooked up to a blood pressure monitor.

“Again he perked up and was sitting watching TV, but within seconds he flopped in our arms and the machine began to go crazy. We pulled the alarm and a rush of nurses and doctors were all working on him in the bed.

“We were then moved to a high dependency room where Leighton was placed on oxygen. His stats were dangerously low and he was given fluids, the few pink spots had turned a deep dark purple and seemed to pop up everywhere - he was covered, even inside his mouth and eyes.

Expect the worst

“We were informed that he was seriously ill and the best thing was to put him to sleep, intubate him, and place him on a life support machine. As Ormskirk didn't have these facilities we were told we would be moved to a different hospital, Manchester Children’s Hospital.

“We were moved into a side room while the team of doctors and nurses worked on Leighton. When we were allowed back into him, he did not look like the same little boy we had left - he had started to swell due to the fluids being pumped into him and was covered in blood. As they had intubated him they had knocked one of the purple spots at the back of his throat which had caused a big bleed and had taken a while to get under control.

“The NWTS team arrived and began preparing Leighton for the transport to Manchester. We were told exactly how ill he was and to prepare for the worst; it was possible he may not make the journey.

“Arriving at Manchester we were placed into another side room while they made Leighton comfortable. The next 48 hours were critical.

“The following morning Leighton was placed on a dialysis machine, as his kidneys were failing due to all the fluid. He looked like a four-year-old, he had swelled so much. His hands and feet were wrapped in cotton wool and he was placed under a heated blanket.

“We sat by his bed continuously, watching his stats, making sure nothing dropped lower than it should. We counted every tube and we watched as more fluids, blood platelets and numerous antibiotics and medicines were pumped into his tiny body. We were allowed to wash him, comb his hair and care for him as much as we could.

Daring to hope

“Within a few days his kidney function began to improve and he was slowly taken off the machine. The swelling began to go down and Leighton began looking more like the little boy we knew. We dared to hope!

“The consultant was over the moon with Leighton's progress and on August 5th he was weaned off his medicines and slowly brought back around from his life support (this took approximately eight hours). After a few more hours and blood tests had come back Leighton was transferred back to Ormskirk Hospital’s High Dependency Unit. They were shocked to see him back; they too had all thought the worst but our little fighter had proved everyone wrong, he wasn't going anywhere.

“Leighton spent a further two weeks having antibiotics. He was given day release and was allowed out of hospital for a few hours a day. Leighton left hospital on August 18th and spent a further week receiving antibiotics at home from community nurses. He was admitted back into Ormskirk Hospital with further rashes and high temperatures and spent a further ten days in hospital during a two week period, where he received further courses of antibiotics.

“When Leighton came home, he didn’t have the energy to do anything for the first few days and he would just sit there and ask or point when he wanted something.

Trying to walk

“After three days he tried to walk, but his body couldn’t physically cope with the strain and he was very upset with this. He had to crawl on his hands and knees, which tired him out after five minutes.

“A few more days passed and Leighton was sleeping, eating and drinking better, which was making him stronger every day, and he now had the energy to walk short distances and was a lot more playful.

“Leighton has now made a full recovery from his ordeal and fight with meningitis and only has to attend hearing appointments every six months.

“We can’t thank the teams at Ormskirk and Manchester Children’s Hospitals enough for saving our little boy’s life.”