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Rory's story

25th November 2007

Rory fell ill with meningitis on November 25, 2007, and was fighting for life in hospital when he was also struck down with haemolytic-uremic syndrome - a rare but severe condition which causes kidney failure

Rory's story

Rory was 15-months-old when he fell ill. His parents Eric and Audrey initially thought nothing of it as their older son Craig had just been unwell with the flu.

Rory was sick but went to bed as usual. Unusually, he slept through the night and when his parents went to check on him they found that his eyes weren't focussing and were rolling around in his head.

Eric said: "He was normally a bright and vibrant boy so we knew there was something majorly wrong. We bundled him into the car and his temperature was 41 degrees by the time we got him to Perth Hospital."

Meningitis confirmed

Doctors didn't know what was wrong and suspected he had a bad viral flu. When his condition didn't improve they transferred him to Dundee Hospital, where a lumbar puncture confirmed he had pneumococcal meningitis.

Eric added: "By this time he was barely conscious. The doctor was surprised that Rory didn't even flinch when they carried out the lumbar puncture. When we found out it was pneumococcal meningitis we feared the worst as it is the worst kind you can get."

When he began to deteriorate again, despite having been pumped full of antibiotics, he was rushed to York Hill Children's Hospital in Glasgow for specialist treatment. Eric said it was 'the worst journey that any family could wish to go through' as Rory's condition continued to worsen.

A consultant explained that Rory also had haemolytic-uremic syndrome - a rare but severe complication of invasive pneumococcal infection, which leads to blood clotting and kidney failure. Everyone prepared for the worst as he lay in intensive care, praying he would make it through each night.

Very poorly

Eric said: "His whole body was shutting down. It's so unusual to get both diseases but the HUS must have got into his body off the back of meningitis. He went into intensive care and couldn't talk or move, he was just lying there lifelessly with his mouth open."

After five days in intensive care he finally responded to his dad speaking - a sign that he might survive against the odds. But it was unknown how much damage had been done to his fragile body as pneumococcal meningitis can lead to brain damage as well as sight and hearing problems.

The whole of December was spent in the children's ward at York Hill. The HUS meant he was permanently on a dialysis machine, with his blood being cleansed and replaced every day until his kidney began to repair itself.

Getting better

Eric added: "His cognitive abilities gradually came back and he started speaking again, which was wonderful to hear. His hearing was still there too and everything started to come back gradually."

Nurse even used to weigh Rory's nappies to gauge if his renal system was getting better. On December 20, his parents were finally given some hope that he might be home in time for New Year - news they thought they may never hear.

But Rory was a little fighter and was allowed home on December 23 - just in time for Christmas.

Eric said: "We were too overwhelmed to celebrate Christmas. In a way it seemed insignificant because we had the best present in the world - a healthy and happy son."

Rory's kidney only functions at 42% and the meningitis has affected his hearing slightly but he's still a 'cheeky little monkey' at the age of four and his family wouldn't have it any other way.