Jude's story

24th December 2015

In June 2013, six-month-old Jude spent a week in intensive care after he contracted meningococcal septicaemia

Jude letterbox
Mum, Julie, noticed something wasn’t right when he seemed unhappy and found he had a high temperature, was vomiting and his breathing became shallow.

Julie tells us their terrifying story.

“I heard Jude stirring in his cot early one Saturday morning when he was six months old. I went in and he was led looking upset, whereas usually he'd be sitting up, smiling. He also had a small amount of vomit in his mouth.”

“I took him into my bed but he didn’t fall back to sleep as he usually would, so I took him into the lounge with his dad. We became concerned as he was just whining and clingy.”

“We gave Jude milk as usual, which he started to drink, gulping it down, but then suddenly his whole stomach contracted and he was violently sick.”

“I had a driving lesson at 10am, which I cancelled (if I’d have gone and saw a doctor later he would almost certainly have not survived), and I took his temperature with a forehead thermometer, which turned red straight away.”

“I called the doctors surgery, which was closed, so they supplied an emergency number and we got an appointment for 11am.”

“Jude remained the same until we got there, whining and half sleeping.”

The doctor was becoming very concerned

“As soon as the doctor saw him he became very strict, saying Jude was very ill and said he was calling an ambulance. By this point his temperature was nearly 40 degrees, his heart was racing but his breathing was slow.”

“The doctor called an emergency response ambulance saying he thought Jude had pneumonia but unfortunately, due to communication errors, a normal patient transporter came, taking 20 minutes to arrive.”

“During this time Jude was drifting to sleep and we were struggling to rouse him. The doctor remained calm but it was obvious he was becoming very concerned.”

“Upon arrival at University Hospital North Staffs we were met at children's A & E by nurses who took us straight into resus. Jude was given IV drugs and blood was taken. They told us he would be staying for at least 48 hours to culture the blood sample.”

No one mentioned meningitis

“No one mentioned meningitis, although they were poking at rash spots appearing on his waist. Jude started to perk-up and sat up.”

“We were transferred to the High Dependency Children’s Ward in the afternoon where Jude’s oxygen levels continued to be monitored. By around 8pm he was lying on his stomach all the time and I noticed on the monitor that his oxygen was not 100, it was about 80.”

“I told the nurse who re-positioned the clamp but it wouldn't go up. A doctor came in from next door and they just started talking. They told us they were taking him through to intensive care - they did try to explain why but we didn’t understand. It was something about his blood.”

“At this point I'll add that the whole experience was very surreal, feeling like it wasn’t serious in some way and that he'd be okay. It was only when we carried him through and they asked us to confirm joint parental responsibility did I ask if Jude was going to be okay. ‘We will do everything we can’ was her answer. I was stunned.”

He had tubes in his neck and body

“We were ushered into the rooms down the hall where parents can sleep as it was a brand new children's ICU with facilities to stay. We were kept there for about three hours, which was agony as they said they would be half an hour.”

“I looked into Jude’s room and saw operation like sheets erected around him and a doctor working on him. By the time we were let back in he looked different, he was intubated and obviously unconscious. He had just a nappy on with tubes going into his neck and others in his body, and he had dark spots on his hips.”

“Sunday arrived and Jude was bloated with fluids and there was a constant beeping of monitors.”

“His hands and feet were cold and wrapped in cotton wool.”

A turning point

“The consultant on call was there most of the weekend, an excellent doctor, and by Sunday they mentioned possible strep infections or meningitis, and told us treatment was to allow for the worst. We were given prophylactic drugs as we'd been in contact with him closely.”

“Sunday was the worst day of our lives with Jude slowly giving up. Urination stopped and his veins stopped working, and the nurses became visibly anxious. They had been pumping drugs and fluid into Jude to make his kidneys produce urine, and a dialysis machine was at his bedside ready.”

“We had some visitors at around 4pm and I went outside for a sandwich. When I came back there was so much commotion around his bed because he was urinating - the biggest wee ever! It lifted everyone and I believe it was a turning point.”

We feel very lucky

“Jude was confirmed to have meningococcal septicaemia and the rest of Sunday went by a little calmer, less machine beeps.”

“Monday the top consultant in children's ICU came on duty and said he thought Jude was 'over the worst'. We remained in ICU until Wednesday then we went into a children's ward room for three weeks.”

“They had concerns at one point as he wasn’t keeping a low temperature and talked to us about a lumbar puncture, but he picked up sufficiently so it wasn’t needed.”

“We eventually went home three weeks after, with ‘hospital at home’ teams coming in for a week or two to sort his IV drugs - he had a longline drip in his arm to go home.”

“We have had to return, and still do, for hearing tests but all is well. We feel very lucky. Only upon leaving did we Google the disease and the prognosis was not good, but thankfully he survived.”

“Jude is now three and apart from getting a lot of chest infections he's perfectly healthy and thriving.”

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