For those who don't know the story, Liam was born 4wks premature and had contracted pneumonia. We brought him home a few weeks after to start our lives as family of 5. My husband Colin Doyle was due to go on pre season tour to China and Liam became unwell. After taking Liam to out of hours doctors and having been reassured Liam was ok, my husband set off for China. A day later and after a another Dr had visited, Liam was continuing to go down hill, but the Dr reassured me it was nothing. It was the early hours on Friday morning and I had had no sleep, Liam had spent nearly all night crying and I kept praying that the morning would come, I remember asking Harry to sit with Liam around 5am in the morning so I could go get a nappy for Liam from his room. Harry started to shout me to come to Liam. I rushed back into the room and Liam was violently shaking a shake unfortunately I have seen too many times since. It was by now I realised Harry was seeing what I was seeing and I rushed him to hospital. When I arrived through A&E Liam was rushed straight into the resuscitation.  Liam was 7 wks of age, grey skin, mottled with his body shaking and starting to shut down.

In the hours that followed, Liam lay lifeless while a lumber puncture was done the doctor came in and broke the devastating news that Liam had meningitis, and that the next few hours where critical as Liam was fighting for his life. He asked if Liam had been Christened and then asked where my husband was. I explained he was in China and said if at any point I need to contact my husband to come home can you tell me? The doctor said I needed to make that call now. In the weeks that followed, Liam would go up and down and we would fight with him. When Liam was discharged we thought this would be the end of it and family life would be normal.

In reality life has been so much different. Liam was diagnosed with epilepsy a year later and in the Christmas of 2012 was treated Again for viral meningitis and by this time Liam was having up to 3 fits a day lasting longer than 5 mins. He was diagnosed with having ataxia, which was a constant tremor in the body. Some weeks Liam would spend days in bed and unable to manage the stairs. By Easter 2014 we were starting to get used to life with Liam, but in the space of hour, Liam who had spent the day playing with the kids in the street was being blue lighted into hospital after suffering a massive seizure and his body was again shutting down. I watched my husband break down In front of me as we were told Liam was fighting a deadly form of meningitis called pneumococcal septicaemia. How could disaster strike three times and what had we done to deserve this?

In the months that followed, Liam's fits where lasting over 15 mins and when Liam went down he went down so quick and so violently.

I have two other amazing children Ava who at the age of 6 is one of Liam's closet allies and Harry aged 12, who is always wanting to raise awareness for his brother. He did a school project in his last year of junior school and he had to do a project on his hero. While most chose footballers and actors, Harry's was entitled ‘My brother my hero’. It was about how Liam was his hero because he had survived meningitis, but in fact, it was Harry that night who saved his brothers life, and it's Harry who helps put his brother into recovery positions after his seizures. 

It’s when your in the high dependency wards in the still of the night and you think its just you there fighting for your sons life, but in the back of my mind, you hear the constant chant of the Small Heath Alliance of Keep right on to the end of the road! As a family have experienced the joys and the sorrows and at times we are tired and weary, but whilst Liam keeps fighting…. we will still journey on. 

In reality, when Liam got poorly I came home and part of me is still in the A&E room. Each day I wake up and each night I go to sleep my heart is broken and each time when I watch Liam fighting for his life, one of the plasters I so delicately put on my heart comes off, so as long as there is no cure for meningitis or another person dies or lives with life long after effects of meningitis, Liam smiles will be around to protect families like ours, so I ask that In what ever way you chose to donate tonight or if this inspires you to help to do more, do it in the knowing that you will bec ome one of those plasters on our  heart or one of those smiles on Liam's face and any other family like us that have been struck by Meningitis  

Meningitis, Signs and Symptoms in Babies and toddlers

Babies and young children under five years of age are most at risk of developing bacterial meningitis.

A baby or young child with meningitis may:

  • have a high fever, with cold hands and feet 
  • vomit and refuse to feed 
  • feel agitated and not want to be picked up 
  • become drowsy, floppy and unresponsive 
  • grunt or breathe rapidly 
  • have an unusual high-pitched or moaning cry 
  • have pale, blotchy skin, and a red rash that doesn't fade when a glass is rolled over it (see below) 
  • have a tense, bulging soft spot on their head (fontanelle) 
  • have a stiff neck and dislike bright lights 
  • have convulsions or seizures 

The above symptoms can appear in any order, and some may not appear at all.

The rash can be harder to see on dark skin, in which case check for spots on paler areas like the palms of the hands, soles of the feet, on the tummy, inside the eyelids and on the roof of the mouth.

However, don't wait for a rash to develop. If your child is unwell and getting worse, seek medical help immediately.