mother s meningitis diary reveals how her healthy daughter was ravaged by the illness in just four hours

// Health | mother s meningitis diary reveals how her healthy daughter was ravaged by the illness in just four hours
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  • Erica would have died if she hadn't called out for a glass of water in the night she fell ill
  • Doctors tell her parents she had been just three hours from death

PUBLISHED: 07:42 EST, 22 August 2012 | UPDATED: 07:42 EST, 22 August 2012

A mother has released a chilling photo diary revealing how meningitis took her perfectly-healthy toddler to the brink of death - in just four hours.

Erica Scoffings had a slight temperature when her mother Michelle, 34, put her to bed as normal at 7.30pm.

But shortly before midnight the three-year-old woke up asking for a drink and her mum noticed purple blotches all over her body and a soaring temperature.

Michael and Michelle Scoffings with their daughter Erica who is recovering from meningitis

Michael and Michelle Scoffings with their daughter Erica who is recovering from meningitis

Erica at 5am on January 29th, five hours after they got to hospital (left) The purple marks quickly spread (right)

Recognising the symptoms, Michelle and husband Michael, 25, bundled her into their car and drove her straight to hospital.

Doctors diagnosed meningococcal septicaemia and said Erica was just three hours from death.
Both of Erica's legs went black and she was left clinging to life in intensive care with bandaged limbs.

But amazingly she pulled through and has now made an almost full recovery after months of hospital treatment.

Her mother Michelle said her diary showed just how quickly meningitis can take hold. 

She said: 'It happened so quickly, we didn't have time to think. I was terrified as there was nothing I could do. Every time someone touched her she screamed.

'We expected her to just go onto a drip but we didn't expect her to go into intensive care. It was the septicaemia which made it so much worse.

'There were so many doctors and medical staff in the room at the hospital. I was in shock but surrounded by my family.

'Erica was screaming and I felt helpless. I just had to sit there and watch and as a parent that is the worst thing that can happen.'

Erica on February 20. Fortunately doctors were able to save her legs

Erica on February 20. Fortunately doctors were able to save her legs

Recovery:  Erica on February 24th (left). She is now re-learning how to walk (right)

Erica, of Chesterfield, Derbyshire, was struck down with the potentially fatal brain bug in January this year.

The bright and bubbly toddler complained of feeling poorly and Michelle put it down to a stomach bug. But by the time Erica went to bed at 7.30pm she was feeling better.

But at midnight she called out asking for a drink and when Michelle picked her up she was horrified to find dark purple marks all over her body.

Michelle said: 'Erica said she couldn't move. I took the quilt off her and saw the purple marks.

'Me and my husband Michael did the glass test and then rushed to hospital. Not ringing and waiting for an ambulance was the best thing we could have done.

'You have to get to the hospital quickly and getting there in ten minutes made a difference.'

Erica, 3, was just three hours from death

Erica, 3, was just three hours from death after she contracted meningitis

When they arrived at Chesterfield Royal Hospital they were told Erica was gravely ill and had just three hours to live.

Erica had meningococcal septicaemia and her body was rapidly poisoning itself - and if she didn't call out for a drink that evening she would have died.

An ambulance then raced Erica to Sheffield Children's Hospital later that night and she put into intensive care, where she battled for her life. Her legs went black as the septicaemia ate away at her flesh, exposing her bone.

Michelle said: 'It was awful, Erica was screaming all the time. I was a mess when the surgeon said she might have to have both legs amputated.

'Amputation was a last resort but it was definitely a possibility. Both her legs and her right hand were completely black.'

Mother-of-eight Michelle documented her daughter's ordeal with a series of shocking photos showing the extent of her illness.

They show the breathing tube that kept her alive and her whole body covered in bandages.

Erica was later transferred to a specialist burns unit as the effect on her limbs was similar to severe burns, and she underwent skin grafts.

Her parents were warned her light have to amputated but they were saved using vacuum therapy, which encouraged the tissue to cover the bone.

Michelle added: 'The NHS has been fantastic. They told us everything that was happening.
Erica is so bubbly and intelligent. She kept saying 'one day I will walk again mummy' and we stayed really positive throughout the whole situation.

'She understands that she has been poorly but she has her appetite back now. She is a bit unsteady on her feet and will need splints to walk properly.'

Erica spent two weeks in hospital and has since returned three times for skin graft operations.

Now, less than eight months after being struck down by the illness, the tenacious toddler has amazed doctors by walking again and she is due to start nursery next month.

Michelle now wants to raise awareness of the symptoms of bacterial meningitis and septicaemia, which affects around 3,500 people in the UK each year. 

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