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Liam E's story

10th December 2006

On December 10, 2006, Russell and Suzanne Elliott had been out for the day and little baby Liam had his usual sleep in the car on the way home, so he was full of energy by the time the family got back home that evening

Liam E's story

At 11pm, after his rejuvenating nap, Liam was playing happily with his toys, clapping his hands, singing to himself and was 'full of beans'.

It was an extra special time for the family as little Liam had also just learnt to say his first words, 'mama' and 'dada'.

Nothing could prepare the family for the devastating event that would occur the following morning. At 6am, Russell noticed that Liam was breathing very heavily but that was nothing unusual, as the baby was always a very deep sleeper.

Russell left for work at 6.30am and that was the last time he saw his baby alive.

Suzanne said: "My 10 year old daughter, Sara, and I woke up at about 8am and she got up to go downstairs to get ready for school. She ran back in the room as she heard me screaming hysterically. Liam was lying face down in his cot, his skin purple down one side of his body."

Ambulance called

Sara called an ambulance but little Liam was already dead. "Because his death was so sudden and there were just no warning signs, the doctors thought it was Sudden Infant Death Syndrome," Suzanne added.

Due to the speed of the death and the lack of symptoms, a post mortem was carried out, and it was only then that the disease was diagnosed. Six days after his death, it was revealed that Liam had Group B Meningococcal Septicaemia.

Suzanne said: "There was no rash, no temperature; there was nothing wrong with him. Everyone always thinks that you can detect meningitis by a rash, but it's so much more complex than that."

Grief and devastation

The grief and devastation of losing Liam is still very raw for the family, worsened by the fact that they lost Suzanne's mother to Huntington's Disease the following February.

"When you lose a child, you lose a big part of you as well, but you have to fight, you have to carry on for the sake of your family; they have all lost Liam too and we need to be strong for them also."

The Elliotts have placed collection boxes, posters and leaflets in dozens of their local shops, libraries, care homes and baby clinics, to ensure that people of all ages are aware of the symptoms and early detection signs.

Russell added: "We can't turn a blind eye to this. Everyone has sons and daughters, nieces and nephews, everyone knows a child; this really could affect anyone, even teenagers and the elderly. If everyone just put their hand in their pocket and donated anything they could afford to help raise funds to find a vaccine, it will change the future. Finding a vaccine for meningitis will help everyone world-wide."