Meningitis stole young Sam’s life in just four-and-a-half hours. Mum Kat, from Lincoln, recounts their sad story.
“My son Sam was 10 months old when he contracted this disease and I didn't have a clue what was happening or going on. Sam was normally a happy and giggly baby but on this day something wasn't quite right.
“I had previously called a doctor out to see Sam a few days before he died and the doctor was annoyed with me for calling him out to a 'rash'. He told me I was a paranoid mother and I should not be wasting his or any doctor’s time.
“So, when Sam was ill again a few days later. I was so scared to ring the doctors as I thought I was going to get the same reception again.
A huge smile
“Sam had four spots near the corner of his eye when I left for work that morning. After giving my son a hug and kiss and in return getting a huge smile I left him with his dad for the day.
“Later in the day my partner phoned to say Sam wasn’t well and he did not want to eat or drink. As he was teething we put it down to him not wanting to eat and wanting to sleep most of the day.
“When I returned home I lifted his T-shirt up and saw he had four spots on his chest; more like bruises on him and these were coming up rapidly. He had a very high temperature, cold hands and feet and was screaming in pain when he touched him. He also was sick and had diarrhoea.
“I phoned the doctor’s at 6pm and it seemed like ages before they came round. They examined him and spoke to nurses at the hospital and we were told to head up to the children's ward in our local hospital. The doctor wasn't sure what was wrong with Sam and she thought he may have chicken pox.
Covered in bruises
“We got to the children's ward and sat around for an hour before anyone came to see us. They took his temperature, which was rising, and examined him. By this time Sam looked like he had been in a fight; he was covered in bruises and was getting more and more uncomfortable when you touched him.
“We got told that he would need a lumbar puncture to find out what was wrong with him. I have never felt so hopeless; my baby was in pain and there was nothing I could do to help him.
“The nurses came into the room and they said as he was drinking it was a good sign and one of us should go home and collect overnight clothes and more milk for Sam. This was the last time I saw my son alive.
Flung himself backwards
“As I left the room Sam had arched his back and flung himself backwards. My partner was holding Sam and I told him to mind his head as Sam had flung himself back so quickly.
“I left the room then at 10.00pm and wanted to be as quick as I could before I returned as I didn't want to be away from him for too long. I never saw my son alive again.
“In my absence Sam had a cardiac arrest and died in his dad’s arms minutes after I walked out of the door. My partner felt Sam’s heart beat quickly three times before it stopped and he had to stand there and watch the nurses and doctors trying for 30 minutes to revive him. He was confirmed dead at 10.30pm.
“When I returned to the ward I was greeted by two nurses and they tried to explain to me what had happened. I didn't listen; I ran back to the room to see my son and sat with him, not wanting to let him go.
“Sam had contracted meningococcal meningitis and septicaemia and within four-and-a-half hours he had died - something that will stay with me for the rest of my life. The guilt of walking away and leaving him will haunt me forever."