George's story

6th November 2014

Emma and her parents were looking forward to taking 10-month-old George on his first holiday abroad. But their trip turned into a nightmare when George became ill and sadly died soon after they arrived in Tunisia

George.gif
Holiday nightmare

George was a 10-month-old healthy, giggly, beautiful baby boy, who we were so excited to be taking on his first holiday abroad to Tunisia with mummy, nanna and granddad. Sadly, he never got to enjoy his first holiday or even know he was abroad.

We woke George up at 3am ready for our 6.15am flight from Manchester Airport. All the way to the airport and at the airport George was his usual happy, excitable, smiling self, drinking plenty and wide awake. As we queued to board the plane George was suddenly and unexpectedly sick. Although this was unusual I presumed this was due to the disturbance to his routine, the fact he'd just drank a whole bottle and that I'd just lifted him from his pram.

I quickly changed his babygro and boarded the plane and George fell straight asleep, presumably exhausted from being sick. During the flight I changed his nappy and he awoke and was alert, but seemed grumpy and tired. He then fell back asleep in my arms for the remainder of the flight.

“Once we arrived in Tunisia I fed George another full bottle and he again seemed tired, grumpy and lethargic, which we thought was due to the fact that he'd been awoken in the night and was still catching up on his sleep.

Harder to wake

Once we arrived at the hotel I fed George his baby food jar, which he ate half of before falling asleep again. This was the first time I began to think there was something not quite right. We got our keys to the room and I dug out my thermometer and realised he had a temperature. I immediately stripped him off and ran him a cool bath. He was very floppy and needed holding up in the bath and wouldn't play with his duck or splash about as he usually would.

My dad went down to ask for the hotel doctor and returned with the hotel nurse, who said he would ring for the hotel doctor who would arrive within half an hour. By this point, 4 pm, George was getting harder to wake and was going cross eyed when he did open his eyes. He was also very pale and his skin became mottled.

The doctor arrived and checked George's eyes and ears etc before telling us we would be safer taking him to hospital for tests and possibly an overnight stay, although he assured us there was nothing to worry about.

We were at the hospital within half an hour’s taxi journey and once there we only had to wait ten minutes before a doctor arrived and again looked at George's eyes and ears, took his temperature and told us to bring him up to the children's ward to run further tests.

It was then we noticed George's hands, feet and ears were turning slightly blue and were very cold even though he had a high temperature. He had also developed tiny pin prick black spots around his mouth. Once in the children's ward the paediatrician plus two nurses began taking blood, put George on a drip and also a medicine to bring down his temperature. They attached him to a heart monitor and led us to a private room while they performed X- rays, extracted urine and administered a lumbar puncture.

Struggling to understand

As the hospital staff spoke little English we struggled to understand what they were doing or asking any questions and they kept asking us if he'd eaten anything unusual as they were unsure what was wrong. After roughly an hour, around 7pm by this point, George began wriggling and getting frustrated trying to turn over but getting himself tangled in the wires, so I kept turning him around and trying to keep him calm.

It was after his third attempt to roll that I sat him up and noticed his whole face had turned a purple/red colour and he had developed big red blotches all over his head. He also began pooing a weird yellow, scrambled egg like faeces, which was unlike anything he'd ever done before.

We called the nurses who immediately began giving him oxygen via a mask and told us they needed to take him straight to intensive care. Watching them lead George away while he was obviously in distress at being made to wear a mask and trying to wriggle to see me is something I will never forget.

It was about two hours before they eventually came to tell us that they had made George stable, but that the next 24 hours was critical and that he had an infection in his blood and lungs but that they were still unsure what had caused it and whether he would be okay.

Dad and I then asked to go and see George and what met us was astonishing. He had been put to sleep and was on a life support machine with wires up his nose and in his mouth. They told us he couldn't hear us and that the machine was breathing for him. His whole body was red with big white blotches, which we later know was a sign of septicaemia.

Singing, talking and kissing

I stayed alone with George for a while, singing, talking and kissing him before the paediatrician came to examine him and told me to leave the room. I could hear the machines beeping and nurses rushing in and out and they informed me it wasn't good, that he was unstable and they were massaging his heart. 

Within 15 minutes the doctor returned to tell us that his heart had stopped and he had unfortunately passed away. We couldn't believe that such a healthy, advanced, happy little boy could be gone with hardly any warning and little signs to know anything was seriously wrong in such a short space of time. You truly wouldn't believe it unless you had been unfortunate enough to have experienced a similar situation. 

As we were under Tunisian law we weren't allowed to hold George and the language barrier made it extremely hard to ask or question the nurses and doctor as to what had happened and what they did to try and save him. All that they could tell us was that it is a disease that spreads very quickly and that we got him there quickly enough but that there was nothing to be done, whether home or away, to save him as the disease just shut down his organs one by one and he couldn't fight it back.

The medical report we received was in French and from it we have translated that he had low blood pressure and white blood platelets, a high temperature, an infection in his lungs and septicaemia. The autopsy they later performed won’t be disclosed to us for up to a year, which is unbelievable although of all the doctors and health professionals we have spoken to in the UK they all believe that the signs and symptoms and cause of death sound very much like meningococcal septicaemia.

We not only lost our only child and grandchild but we also faced the challenges of informing my husband, our family and trying to arrange George's care and flight home from our hotel room. 

Still searching for answers

We flew home three days later without our precious little boy and are still searching for answers and desperate to raise awareness and money towards ensuring this nightmare never happens to another family. We never got to enjoy a single day of the holiday we had all been so excited and looking forward to and we will miss George's beautiful face and joyous giggle for the rest of our lives.

George's life was cut so cruelly short and we will never understand why. All we have left is a huge gaping hole in all our lives and the utter disbelief that George is no longer here with us.

The family has set up the George Stanley Moore Forever Fund to collect donations and announce fundraising events in George’s memory.

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