Micheal's story

1st December 2010

In December 2010 Bev Frank, from Leeds, was looking forward to Christmas with her children. Then, her youngest son, Micheal, contracted meningococcal meningitis and their lives were turned upside down

Michael

Micheal is the youngest of Bev’s four children. On December 23rd 2010, when Micheal was 14 weeks old he, his two year old sister and Bev, all started having cold/flu-like symptoms. For the next two days, the three spent most of their time lying on the sofa all together. Micheal was feeding well and drinking water between meals so Bev was not too worried. 

By day three, Bev and her daughter were starting to improve, but Micheal still wasn’t well at all. Previously always a good feeder, he had missed his night feed, and had refused his feeds the evening before. When there was also no wet nappy, Bev started to get worried and rang the NHS helpline to ask for advice as she was unable to get an appointment at her doctors.

Rushed to hospital

Bev said: "They told me a nurse would ring me back within an hour, and in that hour he went downhill and fast. He went a grey colour and cried and screamed whenever I went near him so I knew then that something wasn’t right. The nurse phoned for an ambulance straight away and we went with Micheal as he was rushed to Leeds General Infirmary.

"Once we arrived at the hospital, Micheal was rushed into a side room with a team of at least 15 doctors and nurses waiting for him. Still, at this point, it was never in my mind that he could have meningitis; I just thought it was dehydration. The next hour was painful to watch as there were two to three doctors to each of his limbs trying their hardest to find a vein so they could put fluids into him. His veins had collapsed and in the end they had to go through a vein in his head. 

There were over 50 pin prick marks on his tiny little body where they had tried to find a vein. Nurses told me then, that they had given him antibiotics strong enough to kill meningitis. Still, it never crossed my mind that’s what he had as there was no rash. If he hadn’t have got to the hospital when he did, he would have died within a couple of hours at home. This was just the start for him."

The next day Micheal had a lumbar puncture and the results came back that he had meningococcal meningitis and septicaemia, as well as Swine Flu, a gut infection, a bowel infection and cysts on his spleen but despite being a very poorly baby, he carried on smiling and laughing. He seemed to be improving but then Boxing Day came, and he started having seizures due to fluid on his brain. Bev was asked to leave the room while doctors spent hours attempting to treat Michael.

Fighting for survival

Bev said: "He lost his fight twice but doctors resuscitated him and in the end they gave him medication to shut off his brain and put him in a coma to stop his fits. It was then that doctors sat us down and told us he was very ill. We had to hope and pray for the best, but prepare ourselves for the worst which was that he had a very slim chance of surviving."

Micheal needed an operation to fit a line into his veins for his medication, but he was so weak that he was given a fifty per cent chance of surviving. The next two weeks were a battle for survival for Micheal. He was given a lot of medication, sometimes over 20 times a day. “This was the only time he cried” says Bev. For weeks after that, he was sent back and forth to have brain scans, C.T and ultrasound scans. Every time doctors tried bringing him off his anti-fitting drugs, he would start fitting again so he had to remain on the medication.

Over the worst

Finally on January 13 2011, Micheal was over the worst. He started picking up and eventually he was allowed home. Micheal has been left with some after effects - slight brain damage, deafness, and bad eyesight including a squint. He can also fit again at any time but he hasn't had one in a long time now and he is thriving.

Bev said: "He is 15 months old, running round like any other toddler and he looks like any 'normal' child. He’s had a lot of rehabilitation and there is still a long way to go but he is proof that anything is possible. He wouldn’t be here now though without the fast thinking hard working staff at Leeds General Infirmary."

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