Robbie's story

1st July 2008

Little fighter Robbie has captured people's hearts with his bravery after losing both legs to meningococcal septicaemia. They were amputated as he battled back from the brink of death at just 23-months-old

Robbie

In July 2008, his parents Jill and Wayne Jones woke to find him covered in black and blue bruise-like marks, which they thought was an allergy. However, doctors at the University Hospital of North Durham confirmed he had group B meningococcal septicaemia, for which there is no vaccination.

The youngster was transferred to Newcastle General Hospital's paediatric intensive care unit where he was prescribed powerful medication and painkillers, and Jill and Wayne were told Robbie's chances of survival were slim.

Wayne, 37, said: "The doctor said it was one of the worst cases he had ever seen. It looked like he had been beaten up. He was bruised all over which was actually his blood clotting. He was swollen all over, you couldn't even see his eyes. It was so frightening as it didn't actually look like him."

The couple moved into a hostel attached to the hospital so they could continue their vigil, and after five days Robbie came off the ventilator but his condition took a turn for the worse as his fingertips turned black and his feet were freezing.

Legs amputated

He was moved to the city's RVI, where surgeons amputated both legs and fingertips on his left hand as septicaemia had spread.

Jill said: "The doctors have been amazing, they have been honest with us throughout. It took three days for me to understand what was going on. We can't believe this has happened.

"As parents you try and do your best for your children from the time you are pregnant by not drinking and eating too much, so they can get the best in life and all of a sudden not even two years later you get a kick in the teeth. I keep thinking what did we do wrong?"

It didn’t hit home

The 30-year-old added: "It didn't hit home until we were told the doctors would have to amputate, otherwise Robbie would die. We were both hysterical."

Wayne, who works for Thompson's building merchant, said: "When we were told we were allowed to see him, Jill walked into the room and I just put my head in the door, I couldn't go in. We are so lucky he's still here but when you see your little boy with no legs it's very hard.

"When you are a dad and you want a little boy, you want him to do everything you did. I played football for 15 years and it tears at my heart to even think about it.

"We will get on with it for the bairn's sake but I will never get over this. He has had so much taken away from him and every step is going to be a hurdle."

Bouncing back

"He had been running around and now that has been taken away from us. He is going to have to learn all over again. Even when I walk down the corridor and I see a little boy walking along it makes me cry. We had heard about meningitis but had never seen the effects it can have. It has been our worst nightmare."

The couple, who also have older daughter Abbie, have been taking Robbie back to hospital for skin grafts and he's now got prosthetic limbs, which are allowing him to enjoy nursery. He was even able to walk down the aisle as a page boy at his parents' wedding in July 2009.

Jill said the support from hospital staff, family and friends has been overwhelming. She said: "We can't thank everyone enough for all their support, the doctors, families, friends. We couldn't have done it without them."

More than £105,000 has been raised to help pay for Robbie's prosthetic limbs and the extra care he needs.

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