Baby Girl Dies From Meningitis Just Hours After Taking Her First Steps

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A mother has opened up about the devastating moment she lost her 10-month-old baby girl to meningitis just one day after seeing her take her first steps.

Rebekah Watson, from the UK, was bursting with pride after her baby girl, Lily Teale, smiled and giggled as she hit the milestone in November last year.

Just hours later, Lily was rushed to hospital after her lips turned blue and she was unresponsive.

After going through six cardiac arrests, doctors told the mother and her partner Lloyd Teale that there was nothing more they could do, with the baby only being diagnosed with meningococcal meningitis W following a post-mortem.

The mother said: ‘The pain was unbearable. She’d been absolutely fine just the night before. We’d lost our little girl in a matter of hours.’

 Watson, whose Facebook post about her loss has been shared thousands of times, is now petitioning to lower the age of the MenACWY vaccine from 14 years old to 3 months, believing that it could have protected her daughter.

Lily took her first steps on November 21 with no sign of her being unwell.

Watson said: ‘She was such a happy baby. Every parent thinks their child is perfect, but Lily really was. She never threw tantrums, she always slept and ate well. She was constantly smiling.

‘She was such a pretty baby, too. Whenever we went out, people were just drawn to her. They’d always want to stop and chat, and she’d love the fuss.’

But, in the early hours of late November, Lily woke up crying, vomiting and with a high temperature.

After checking her over, Watson gave Lily some Calpol and ibuprofen, before calling the non-emergency NHS number 111.

She said: ‘I described the symptoms and they told me to keep giving her medicine, but to take her to doctors if she hadn’t improved within 12 hours.’

Watson managed to get Lily back to sleep for around an hour, before she woke again as her normal self, happily playing around the house.

But as the morning progressed, Lily’s temperature spiked again, prompting Watson to take her to a doctor.

She told the Daily Mail: ‘That was when she got really poorly. She was sick in the waiting room and seemed very lethargic.

‘Lloyd was at work and my family were all at my grandad’s 70th birthday, so I was on my own with her.

‘We eventually got called in and they said she probably had a sickness bug like gastroenteritis.

‘I told them Lily had tonsillitis a few weeks earlier and asked them to check her throat, too, which they did, but they didn’t seem worried.

‘You don’t question doctors and I really thought, after having their reassurance, that everything would be fine.’

Back home, Lily briefly seemed fine again, before dramatically deteriorating that afternoon.

After she developed diarrhoea, Watson was changing her nappy when she noticed a mottled rash around Lily’s groin.

She said: ‘It wasn’t the typical rash you associate with meningitis, the one you see in the glass test. 

‘It was more veiny and purple. Lily’s lips and hands then turned blue, so I phoned an ambulance right away.

‘By the time they arrived, she was completely unresponsive. I was absolutely petrified.

Medics were unsure what was happening at first, but planned to stabilise the infant before blue-lighting her to the more specialist Sheffield Children’s Hospital.

Tragically, she did not make it that far.

Watson said: ‘Lily went into cardiac arrest six times, until eventually doctors said there was nothing more they could do. We were totally devastated.’

Tests after Lily’s death revealed she had contracted meningococcal meningitis W, but doctors are unable to determine its cause.

As part of her grieving, Watson is now fundraising for Meningitis Now and has raised around £8,000 in Lily’s memory so far.

She said: ‘Campaigning and fundraising are the only things I can do to carry on my daughter’s name.

‘At the moment, the ACWY vaccine is offered to teenagers at around 14 and upwards. The strain it protects against is most common among university students, but meningitis can affect anyone. 

‘We don’t want this to happen to anyone else, so if we can just get one parent to read up on meningitis and potentially save a life, we are keeping Lily’s name alive.

‘I also want to urge others to keep pushing if they suspect something is wrong. You know your child better than anyone – better than doctors even.

‘Lily was only 10 months old. She had her whole life ahead of her and losing her has left a massive hole in all our lives.’

According to the charity Meningitis Now, meningococcal meningitis W is actually the rarest strain of the disease. Families wanting younger kids to be protected have to pay for the vaccine privately.

Ms Watson said: ‘I didn’t even know a private vaccination was an option, otherwise I would have paid for it.

‘I want more parents to be aware that their children may not necessarily be protected against all strains of meningitis.

‘The vaccine should be offered as standard when babies get the rest of their jabs. I don’t want any other families to go through this.’

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