“It was a Saturday night in September and my partner Graham and I were enjoying a takeaway meal when we both happened to mention that we thought our 3-year-old son Evan had felt a bit hot when he went to bed.
“We decided to keep looking in on him through the night. It wasn’t long until Evan came back downstairs complaining that he didn’t feel well and was burning up. We decided to tuck him up in our bed so we could keep a closer eye on him. He was soon being sick and he had a high temperature, so we assumed it was just a stomach bug and gave him regular paracetamol and ibuprofen.
“He stopped being sick early in the morning but remained very lethargic and subdued. We noticed a few blotches on Evan’s legs, but he had had a very similar rash while he was ill on holiday and we thought it was a slight reaction to the ibuprofen. But we had given it to him again as his temperature was struggling to go down.
The glass test
“The marks on his legs began to spread, so after I did the glass test and they didn’t blanch at all, we panicked and called the ambulance.
“The ambulance arrived swiftly and as soon as the paramedic checked Evan over he stated he was going to treat him for meningitis. I was so shocked but also slightly in denial and was convinced it was an allergy. The paramedic gave Evan a shot of penicillin. Evan hardly flinched, which as the paramedic explained was a warning sign that Evan was seriously ill.
“We were blue lighted all the way to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Gateshead and I held Evan’s hand and reassured him all the way there. The paramedic explained that a large amount of staff would be waiting for our arrival. I was shocked to find about 15 staff ready to treat out little boy.
“They immediately began to put lines in almost every available vein while Evan continued to talk quietly to me as though he had no idea what was happening. The consultant announced to me that he was positive that Evan had meningococcal septicaemia.
“At this point I broke down; this couldn’t be happening to our baby. He is so precious to us. Evan’s dad was frantically texting to find out what was happening - he had to wait at home for grandparents to arrive to look after our daughter - and there was no way I could text him what was happening to our boy.
Dreaming of Center Parcs
“Soon Graham arrived at the hospital and I told him the devastating news. During this time doctors were frantically syringing large amounts of water into Evan’s body, as apparently your body leaks fluid when you have meningitis. We were then informed that Evan would have to be put on a life support machine to stabilise him, so I took his hand and asked him if he was going to have some nice dreams. He replied that he would, he would dream about Center Parcs! I held onto him and kissed our baby until he was fast asleep and could be ventilated.
“We were told that Evan would need to be transferred to the RVI PICU in Newcastle, so a team would be coming over to the QE to transfer him in an intensive care unit. The team soon arrived and they spent a long time continually monitoring Evan and pumping fluid into him. At the point of moving Evan onto the unit all doctors grew more serious and I realised something was wrong.
“Evan’s blood pressure had dramatically dropped. My mam, who had now arrived, started shouting to Evan to be strong, while we looked on completely useless at our most gorgeous boy. I couldn’t quite believe this was happening, I was convinced it was a nightmare. I felt like my throat was closing up and I was choking.
“After a while his blood pressure began to rise slowly and the doctors seemed a bit happier to move him. We were then taken into a room by the consultant and it was explained to us that Evan was seriously ill and had a life threatening disease. I was looking around the white walls of the room and wondering what the hell was happening? Why were we here? Nothing was sinking in.
The longest wait of my life
“Evan was transferred to the RVI and I was grateful to the staff for letting me ride in the ambulance with him. On arrival we were asked to wait in a family room while they tried to stabilise Evan. We were eventually allowed to see him after an hour or so, the longest wait of my life.
“Our little son was all wired up with machines beeping everywhere, we were so scared. We stayed with him all night while the staff worked tirelessly on our baby, constantly testing his blood, constantly monitoring him. We just stared at him and tried to work out if everything was going in the right direction.
“In the morning the consultant explained that some children can go downhill and some improve. Evan was doing just ‘okay’. I broke down again, I so wanted some reassurance that our baby was fighting through. I couldn’t stop crying and just felt completely devastated and scared.
“We stayed with Evan continuously, ignoring demands from staff to get some sleep or food. How could I leave my son? Over the next few days Evan finally began to show signs that he was pulling through, and after four days on life support he came round!
The best day ever
“I will never forget the look on his face as he saw both his dad and me. It was the best day ever and all the prayers and good wishes had been answered! I climbed up on the bed and cuddled him close. Our boy spent a further week in hospital on intravenous antibiotics and he was so brave.
“He has made a full recovery, but we have since found out that Evan has an immune deficiency and was actually prone to getting meningitis. Both Evan and his little sister will now be receiving the Meningitis B vaccine to help reduce the risk of him catching it again. We have been incredibly lucky; we will never forget the staff that saved our little boy’s life.”