Louie's story

12th November 2014

Louie was just five months old when he contracted meningococcal meningitis and septicaemia in January 2012. He lost both legs as a result, and recently took his first steps in prosthetic limbs. His mum Julie, from Colne in Lancashire, shares Louie’s journey

Louie.gif
Losing both legs

I’d bathed Louie and his sister as normal that night; but after I put him to bed he kept waking up crying and being sick. I noticed he had a bit of a temperature so I gave him some Calpol and took his clothes off; it was then that I noticed two tiny pin pricks marks on his skin. I pressed them and they didn’t disappear under the pressure. Within minutes he had gone grey and floppy so I called an ambulance.

While I waited for them to arrive, I couldn’t believe what was happening in front of my eyes; Louie’s arms and legs turned purple. 

Diagnosis confirmed

The paramedics arrived and took us straight to the intensive care unit at Leeds General Hospital where Louie was immediately treated for meningitis. It was all such a shock; meningitis is something you hear about in the news; you never think it will happen to your own child. 

None of it really hit home until the results of the blood tests confirmed that he had meningococcal septicaemia. The first 48 hours were touch and go; we were told he had a 50 per cent chance of surviving. I was devastated. Gradually he started to recover, but it soon became clear that he was going to have to have amputations.

Louie’s legs were completely black from the thigh down; and so were his arms. I couldn’t get my head around it at first, but all I wanted was to take my little boy home.

Losing his limbs

As time went on, doctors said they would be able to amputate his legs just below the knee, and they wouldn’t need to remove his entire left arm; just his fingers. It was the best outcome they could have hoped for.

He also had the tips of his fingers on his right hand removed. Eventually, after spending nine and a half weeks in hospital, we were allowed to take him home.

It is so upsetting that he had the amputations, but we are just so relieved that our gorgeous little boy is alive and doesn’t have any brain damage.

The doctors told me that if I hadn’t spotted the rash and got Louie to hospital so quickly, he probably would have died.

Fighting spirit

Despite his amputations, Louie is a very happy baby. He found it hard not being able to have cuddles when he was in hospital due to the wires and tubes; but ever since he’s been really happy. It doesn’t seem to have affected him; he is such a little fighter.

Louie had his first prosthetic legs fitted in June, and he took his first steps just last month. It’s incredible how far he’s come in a year; we never imagined a year ago that he’d be walking across the room with a baby walker, or walking around furniture.

He’s extremely determined and strong willed and this, I know, will take him far. I’m so proud of him.

Support from us

Meningitis Now has been a wonderful support to us. Without them we would’ve struggled to afford to spend time together as a family when Louie was in hospital due to the cost of travelling to and from Leeds.

Even though I had heard of meningitis and the signs of it, I never knew what happened after you got it. We want to try and raise awareness of the serious long-term effects that it can have including brain damage and amputation.

I’ve also done lots of fundraising for Meningitis Now to help them to continue their emotional and financial support for families who have suffered, like we have, from the awful effects of meningitis.

I would urge all parents to check their children for a rash if they become ill with a temperature. Often the rash is one of the last signs of meningitis; and then it can be too late. It is so important to know the signs.


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  • Lyndon Longhorne

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    Lyndon lost his legs, part of his right arm and the tips of the fingers on his other hand