We use necessary cookies that allow our site to work. We also set optional cookies that help us improve our website For more information about the types of cookies we use, visit our Cookies policy and manage your preferences.


Luca's story

22nd May 2018

Melissa’s bouncy and happy young son Luca became super hot and shivery within the space of two hours. But it was only when the family did the glass test that they knew they had to get him to hospital quickly. The first-time mum from Belfast tells their story here

Luca's story

“On 2 November 2013 my son Luca was five-and-a-half months old. We were just about to spend our first night in our new family home.

“Luca had been staying with his granny that day while we got sorted. When she brought him home to us just after 5pm we had one happy boy, bouncing and laughing. At 7pm he went for a nap in his pram, waking up at 10pm.

“My best friend lifted him out of his pram, all happy to see him. When she lifted him she said, “Melissa, he is shivering.” I said “he couldn't be, it’s warm in the house."

Super hot and shivering badly

“When I took him off her he was super hot and shivering badly. How could this happen in the space of two hours?

“Panicking, I called his daddy William from upstairs and from there on is where the nightmare began.

“I phoned the out of hours doctors in tears, explaining to them that if they didn't call back in 10 minutes I couldn't wait anymore. I was so worried; he was so lifeless. We brought him on down to the out of hours doctors and were told there were five people in front of us. Worried, we then rushed in the car to the children's hospital.

All the blood had drained from him

“When we got there he was white, all the blood had drained from him. The nurse checked his temp. It was 40 and they gave him some paracetamol to see if it went down. We waited until 2 o'clock in the morning before we got to see the doctor. The doctor explained to me that they would usually keep a child in when the temperature is this high.

“In this case though he said Luca, my baby boy, had bronchitis and there was nothing they could do so we should take him home. The doctor explained to us that it would be really hard for us watching how weak and sick our son would be but it would run its course and he would be better in a few days.

“Being first time parents we were just happy to get our son home. We got home at 4am but at 6am Luca woke up projectile vomiting a lot of bile. He was so weak.

Small purple dot

“At 11am, just before my partner went to football, I noticed a small purple dot on Luca’s chest. I showed my partner and he thought it was where the doctor had been checking his heartbeat and had left a mark.

“But something didn't seem right. His temp was still sky high. When his granda came up, who he loves and always makes him smile, it was like Luca didn't know who he was. It was as if there was nothing else around him and he was looking right through us.

“I phoned my sister and asked her to come over. I had done the glass test on him and the dot did not go away. I ask her to do it again and she checked it and said “I think you should phone an ambulance."

Couldn’t keep his eyes open

“I phoned a taxi to the hospital and it came right away. But in the taxi Luca lost all life, he was so weak trying to keep his eyes open and suddenly he couldn't. I looked at his legs and saw a rash had started on them.

“I ran through hospital straight on in to the doctors area where they took him right away and gave him oxygen to make him come round. Then I heard him cry. When we showed them the rash the nurse said to get him to a ward right away and get him on an antibiotic drip. They got him on a drip and did a blood test.

“They were telling us what they thought he could possibly have and they explained to us about meningococcal septicaemia. But it would take 48 hours for the test to confirm if he had that. In the meantime they were going to do a lumbar puncture on our little boy. He was too weak for them to do it yet, so for 32 hours in hospital Luca was lifeless and was being giving fluids through a drip.

Opened his eyes

“On Sunday night he had came around a wee bit and had opened his eyes, so now they were going to do the lumbar puncture. They told us it would be better to take ourselves out of the building while they did it. It was already heartbreaking enough watching him lying there and feeling so helpless.

“Being the fighter that he is Luca found the energy to fight the nurses off him when we came back in. They were telling us how they couldn't believe how much energy he had or where he had got it from.

“The next few days we just hoped and prayed along with our friends and family that our baby would fight whatever he had. On the Wednesday night the long-awaited results were in and the doctors came round and confirmed meningococcal septicaemia, he had neisseria, menB. Luca had fluid around the meninges in his brain.

All my hope had gone

“When I heard them say it all my hope had gone. I thought we were going to lose our little boy to this serious illness. I just kept thinking of what was going on inside his body - it was all so scary. The doctors told us that they had done all they could and now it was up to us. He needed our love and strength to help him.

“He was such a smiley baby. I remember every night in hospital praying that in the morning he would wake with that big smile. Miracles really do happen and on the Thursday morning after being in hospital for five days our baby boy woke up with a smile on his face and said "mama".

“It was like a dream come true; it honestly felt like he was born again. We are thankful our boy fought it and is here today with us. Thank you Meningitis Now for raising awareness and helping us know the signs; your work is amazing. Luca is now 5 and is a healthy happy little boy."