Matthew L’s story

9th March 2016

Trembling, a temperature, cold hands and feet and vomiting first alerted Gemma Lessells, of Fife, that there was something very wrong with her little boy, Matthew

Matthew L letterbox
His condition quickly deteriorated when he collapsed in her arms, becoming floppy and unresponsive and his lips turned blue. Gemma immediately called for an ambulance and, within just five hours of showing onset symptoms, Matthew was in A & E fighting for his life.

She tells their story here.

“On 6 July 2010, Matthew had been out shopping for the day with me, my daughter, Hannah, my mum and my sister. When we came home at around 4pm, I noticed he was trembling and had a temperature so I gave him some Calpol.”

“About two hours later he started being sick, so I assumed he had a tummy bug. I stripped his cot and put him in a cool bath.”

“I put Matthew to bed as normal just after 7pm and he was sick again at 8pm. I gave him more Calpol and put him on the couch beside me as he was very restless.”

I knew something wasn’t right

“I was talking to my husband about calling NHS 24 as I knew something wasn't right and at that point he sat up, screamed, tried to be sick and instead collapsed in my arms. He was completely floppy and unresponsive and went blue at the lips.”

“All I remember after that is screaming for my husband to call an ambulance.”

“Within half an hour we were in A & E. Matthew's temperature upon admission was 40.2 and his heart rate was 210 bpm!”

“It was in A & E that we noticed two tiny pin prick marks on his chest. I pointed it out to the doctor and there was a flurry of activity as they put cannulas in both hands and his feet. He was so ill he didn't even move or cry as they did it.”

Matthew had contracted Men B and septicaemia

“It was then they advised us that they suspected meningitis but they couldn't do a lumbar puncture as Matthew was too unstable. So we had an agonising 48 hour wait for bloods to come back.”

“They proceeded to treat Matthew for meningitis anyway so by the time the bloods did come back he had already had 48 hours’ worth of anti-biotics.”

“They took what seemed like a million samples of blood, and at one point were using bolus fluids to try to stabilise his blood pressure. This made him all puffy and his eyelids started to swell with all the extra fluid.”

“The medical staff advised us that they would monitor Matthew for the next two hours and, if there was no improvement, he would be transferred to another hospital into PICU.”

The best birthday present

“He must have heard us as his blood pressure started to stabilise.”

“After an agonising couple of days, Matthew started to perk up. He was released from hospital on my birthday, 11 July. It was the best birthday present EVER!”

“We still had to go to the hospital every day for two weeks for them to finish administering his course of antibiotics.”

He is an inspiration

“Following his stay in hospital he had severe night terrors, major tantrums where he would drop to the floor for no reason and start banging his head off the pavement, and he has to see a speech and language therapist as he has been left with delayed expressive speech.”

“But he is doing really well. He will be seven in May and we are so proud of him and all he has done to raise awareness of this horrible disease. He is an inspiration and we thank our lucky stars every day that we still a have him.” 

“It is so important for parents to be aware of meningitis and what to look out for.”

“I searched for information on the disease when Matthew was admitted to hospital. I wanted to know what was wrong with him and find out if I could do anything to help. I remember feeling completely helpless as I knew nothing about the disease. Meningitis Now provided information when I needed it most!”

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