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Zara's story

16th September 2015

Zara Alam was a happy and active 13-month-old when she was cruelly taken from her loving parents within 24 hours of contracting meningitis

Zara's story

Her mother Nazia, of Essex, remembers the final hours of her precious daughter’s life.

“On Thursday 4th September 2014 my daughter Zara was a very happy alert and active little girl. On Friday 5th September 2014, my baby girl died.

It was my first week back to work after maternity leave and on the Thursday she came with her daddy to visit me at work. They went to have lunch and she was her usual self throughout the day.

Around 11pm Zara felt very hot so I gave her some Calpol in the hope this would help to bring her temperature down. I put it down to teething.

We took her upstairs and put her in our bed, moving all the blankets so she wouldn’t overheat.

Zara fell asleep with me next to her.”

We decided to take her to A&E

“At 2am, Zara started to move around but was still very hot. We put a cold compress on her and took her temperature. It was 38.7 degrees.

Her temperature kept going up and down and we weren't able to stabilize it.

By 4.30am her temperature had hit 40 degrees so we decided to take her to A & E at King George's Hospital. We gave Zara Calpol before taking her into A & E.

When we got there, there was no wait. We were seen by the nurse and her temperature was taken again which was now at 38.7. She then gave Zara ibuprofen.

When the doctor came round we told him that it was not normal for Zara to have such a temperature - Calpol always worked and would bring her back to her normal self.

I told the doctor that I had used a cold compress to bring her temperature down but nothing had worked.

He asked me to place Zara on my lap before he placed a wooden spatula in Zara’s month and told us that she had a swollen throat. He told us her temperature was due to a viral infection and teething.”

We were discharged

“I kept repeating and asking so many questions as to why Zara temperature was so high even though I had given her Calpol and a cold compress but no clear answers were give. I had never seen Zara so ill.

When we were discharged at 7.10am were just relived that her temperature had finally come down.”

I noticed blue marks on her face

“When we got home I put Zara in her cot as she was sleepy. She slept through the night and at 10am I could see Zara trying to lift herself up on the cot but she fell back down.

I got out of bed and picked her up and she was cold so I put her in bed with my husband and pulled up the blinds.

My husband came out of bed and was standing rubbing Zara's back. When he turned around I noticed blue marks on her face. I rushed and checked her cot thinking she had put a teddy in her mouth and got colour on her face or something. But there was nothing.

My heart dropped and I called 999.”

I never thought I would lose my baby

“Zara was looking at us both with her eyes wide open. The fast response paramedics arrived and took off her baby grow. Zara was covered in blue patches.

We were told Zara was really, really poorly, but never did I think I would lose my baby.

I could see the panic on the paramedic’s face and I was told to gather all Zara’s things together because once the ambulance arrived there would be no time to wait.

The ambulance arrived at 10.20am, but on our way to hospital Zara passed away.

We weren’t told and I kept singing to her so she would keep strong but deep down I knew I’d lost my only baby.”

Zara had meningitis

"When we arrived at the hospital, doctors were waiting. They took Zara - she was surrounded by doctors and I asked if they could hear Zara's heartbeat.

They told me they were helping her and I begged them to save my baby girl.

Then one of the doctors said the words not parents want to hear – ‘I'm sorry’.

That’s when we were told that Zara had contracted meningitis.

From that moment our lives changed.”

I keep questioning why this happened

“My husband and I were left empty. Even today I keep questioning what happened. Why did doctors send her home? Why were all her reports saying no rash? Why did no one listen to me when I said her temperature was not normal?

Zara’s post-mortem report confirmed that Zara had died of meningococcal meningitis.”