Little Faye Burdett was only 2 years old when she died from meningitis B on Valentine’s Day after contracting the infection 11 days earlier.
To raise awareness and encourage people to sign a petition calling for all children to be given the meningitis vaccine, her devastated parents have released an image of Faye in hospital.
Warning: You may find this upsetting.
Faye’s mother, Jenny Burdett, shared the images online, including one of Faye in a hospital bed not long before she died, with the following message:
"This is a photo of Faye, two years old, who sadly lost her life to this dreadful disease. We campaign for change in her memory. Faye was taken to A&E with a rash on her forehead. She was then transferred by South Bank Retrieval Service to Evelina Children's Hospital, where her heart stopped in the ambulance. They revived her and spent hours working on stabilising her. She was getting tired, her little body consumed by meningitis and sepsis.
"We were given a one percent survival chance but she proved them wrong and carried on fighting. After a few days she seemed to have turned a corner, but the sepsis started to affect her more and the decision of limb removal was made. The extent of removal was massive, full leg amputation and one arm and plastic surgery. She was getting tired, her little body consumed by meningitis and sepsis (blood poisoning). We had to make the decision, a massive operation and she may die or we let her go peacefully on her own accord. We decided the latter and then watched our little girl slip away. At 9pm on February 14 she finally fell asleep forever. All this in only 11 days".
Sue Davie, chief executive of Meningitis Now, said, "Our heartfelt sympathies go out to Faye's family and friends — they know we are here to support them in any way we can. We are using our voice to support the petition to raise the profile of meningitis, keeping it high on the political agenda and increasing awareness among the public to prevent more lives being lost to this devastating disease.
"Although the introduction of the Men B vaccine on the childhood immunisation scheme for young babies was a momentous achievement, saving thousands of lives, there are still so many, like Faye, left unprotected. Moving forward, we continue to campaign to see the Men B vaccine rolled out, particularly to at-risk groups, to ensure a future where no-one in the U.K. loses their life to meningitis".
At the time of publication, 296,747 people have signed a petition calling for the meningitis B vaccine to be given to all children, not just to babies.
On Sept. 1, 2015, the meningitis B vaccine was added to the U.K.'s childhood immunisation programme, to be offered to all babies born on or after July 1, 2015, with a limited catch-up programme for babies born between May 1, 2015 and June 30, 2015. It is also available on the NHS to a small number of children who are very susceptible to infection, but for all other children born before May 1, 2015, parents have to pay privately for the vaccine.
Meningitis is the inflammation of the membranes that surround and protect the brain and spinal cord, and it can be caused by different organisms, including bacteria and viruses. According to Meningitis Now, everybody carries a very small risk of contracting meningitis, with the under-5s being the most at-risk age group and the under-1s being the most at risk.
Other vaccines are given to babies on the NHS to protect against strains of meningitis, including the Hib vaccine (introduced in 1992), the meningococcal group C (MenC) vaccine (introduced in 1999) and the pneumococcal meningitis vaccine (introduced in 2006).
However, no single vaccine protects against all strains of meningitis, meaning it's absolutely vital to be aware of the early signs of the infection.
There are two types of meningitis: bacterial and viral.
Babies and young children are most at risk of developing bacterial meningitis, which is the more serious (and rarer) type. The symptoms, which tend to begin suddenly and get worse very quickly, include a high fever with cold hands and feet, vomiting and refusal to feed, drowsiness, floppiness, grunting or rapid breathing, convulsions or seizures, dislike of bright lights and pale or blotchy skin with a red rash that doesn't fade when a glass is rolled over it.
Viral meningitis results in mild, flu-like symptoms like headaches and fever. Other symptoms include neck stiffness, muscle or joint pain, nausea and vomiting, diarrhoea and sensitivity to light. Unlike bacterial meningitis, viral meningitis does not usually lead to septicaemia (blood poisoning).
If you suspect your child has symptoms of meningitis, seek medical help immediately, and don't wait for a rash to appear, because not everyone who contracts meningitis gets one.
For more information, visit Meningitis Now.
Our thoughts go out to Faye Burdett's family at this time.
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