Jessica's story

12th November 2014

In August 2007, Laura was unable to wake her 15-week-old daughter Jessica for her morning feed. Sensing something was seriously wrong; Laura acted quickly and took her to see a doctor straight away. Jessica was later diagnosed with bacterial meningitis

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Sensing something seriously wrong

Jessica would not take her feed, was burning hot and unable to open her eyes. Laura, who is from Burnley, said: "I just knew something wasn’t right. The GP surgery was just a five minute walk away from my house, so I put Jessica in her pram and ran to the surgery. My partner called ahead to warn them I was coming, and I only had to wait a few minutes before the doctor saw us. At this point, Jessica had her eyes open. She was vacant, just staring the most chilling stare. I’ll never forget that look.

The nightmare unfolds

The doctor advised Laura to take Jessica straight to the children’s ward in the nearby hospital. They arrived there ten minutes later, and Jessica was immediately given medication to lower her temperature which was 41 degrees. Thirty minutes later, Jessica had a small feed and Laura laid her down for a sleep. It was then that Laura noticed three small spots on Jessica’s knee which did not disappear under pressure. 

I shouted for the nurse," said Laura. "They said they would take her for a blood test, so my sister went into the room with her while I called my partner to update him. When I arrived back on the ward, my sister was on her knees screaming 'She's dead! She's dying!' I ran into the room, confused, and saw around 20 doctors cramped into the tiny room, each one doing something. There was a lot of noise, beeps and gasps and I asked the nurse what was going on. She shook her head and told me that she was very poorly and that they didn’t know if she was going to make it but that they were doing their best.

Fighting for her life

With those words, Laura's world shattered. She later found out that during the blood tests, Jessica stopped crying and her organs began to shut down. She said: "Family started to arrive. A priest - the same one who had christened Jessica only two days previously – also arrived to give her a blessing.

Laura was then told that Jessica was being ventilated, and then a team from the intensive care unit came to collect her and transfer her to a bigger hospital. Jessica was transferred from one ventilator to another in preparation for the journey. There was not enough room in the ambulance for Laura to travel with her daughter, as the entire team of medical staff had to make sure Jessica was stable.

I remember saying to one of the men 'you'd better make sure you get there and if anything happens I'll go mad'." The agonising journey to the hospital seemed to take forever. When they eventually arrived, they were told to wait in a room that was dedicated to a little girl who had died on 19 April 2007 - the same day Jessica was born.

On the road to recovery

In the days that followed, Jessica deteriorated. One night, Laura was called from the parent room to be told her little girl needed a blood transfusion to fight the septicaemia. Two days later, Jessica finally started to recover. She grew stronger and stronger and on 10 August, Laura was finally allowed to hold her daughter again. Jessica was soon well enough to go back to the local hospital, where she stayed for a further few days before being allowed home.

Jessica, now almost 6, continues to suffer with the after-effects of her illness. She has hearing problems and has some social difficulties, but despite this she is a commercial model working with big name companies. Proud Mum Laura said: "As soon as she's in front of the camera she comes alive. She has even acted in her first promotional advertisement for a major company.