A Middleton couple will enjoy the perfect Christmas after their baby son recovered from meningitis.
Tracy Sanders and Karl Mills will be with six-month-old Callum Mills for the family get-together they thought they would never see.
The couple feared the worst when Callum was diagnosed with the deadly brain bug at just ten days old. But the hardy tot battled back from near death thanks to the expert care of doctors.
Store wages clerk Tracy said: “Callum has just received the all-clear which has given us the ideal Christmas present.
“It’s going to be brilliant when we are enjoying Christmas Day together. It was a horrible time when Callum was ill.”
Tracy and Karl are backing the Meningitis UK charity’s campaign – Look Out 4 Meningitis, Look Out 4 Others – to warn anyone is at risk from the disease.
The charity is urging people to request a free poster which they will ask their GP surgery, school or similar place to display.
Tracy recalled how Callum was perfectly happy and healthy for the first nine days of his life after he was born on May 29 this year.
Next day, though, was the start of every parent’s worst fear. He failed to wake up from his usual three-hour sleep after his bottle feed at midday.
Tracy, of Merlin Way, said: “We thought Callum was just starting to sleep for a bit longer. When it came to four hours, we decided to wake him.
“As we went to pick him up, we noticed his breathing was very grunty and shallow. He was limp and lifeless when I picked him up.
“We stripped him off thinking he was hot, but both his legs flopped like he was a rag doll. He was turning grey by the second.”
The couple rushed him, wrapped in a blanket, to A&E at St Richard’s Hospital, Chichester.
An initial scan revealed he had seven broken ribs and was extremely poorly.
He was transferred to Southampton General Hospital where the diagnosis of Group B streptococcus meningitis was made.
“It felt like a bad nightmare when, finally, we found that out,” said Tracy.
Callum had swollen so much his family didn’t recognise him as doctors said the next 48 hours were critical for his survival.
He had probes in his head, a tube stitched into his neck, lines in both hands and a catheter. His treatment also consisted of a lumbar puncture and a machine to help him breathe.
Strong antibiotics were pumped into him as well, but a bleed on his brain was beyond the medics’ control.
Callum delighted everyone by being able to breathe on his own as he was gradually taken off the machine. A further week in intensive care confirmed his progress.
But he still spent another fortnight in St Richard’s before he was allowed home.
Tracey said she and mechanic Karl continued to worry, with constant checks on his condition.
Group B streptococcus is passed from the mum to the baby at birth. It is the UK’s most common cause of severe infection in newborn babies.
Cases such as Callum’s are known as late-onset GBS and are complicated by septicaemia.