'˜We hope others can have a happy ending like we did'
PÃ¡draig Bradley was only three-months old when he contracted a strain of Meningitis B.
Thankfully, Pádraig battled back and has made a strong recovery since his trauma a year ago, however, his parents Maria and Vincent want to share their experience to “help others pick up on the signs of this awful disease early and they have a happy ending like ours”.
Maria said her baby became unwell in February 2016. He wasn’t his usual bright and happy self that day, and was very sleepy.
“When I tried to stir him he was very sleepy, refused a feed, very unlike our little man, and was making a whining/grunting sound,” Maria recalled. “His eyes were heavy and over the next hour his temperature began to rise. At this stage we were beginning to worry.”
Pádraig’s colour then changed dramatically, and the couple made their way to Altnagelvin.
“As soon as the staff in Altnagelvin examined Pádraig they could see how seriously unwell he was. They took bloods and started antibiotics - this fast response saved our little boy’s life. At this point Pádraig was put on life support, given fluids and a blood transfusion. Trained staff from the Royal in Belfast came to Altnagelvin to transfer him up to the Royal Paediatric Intensive Care Unit.”
The Royal confirmed Pádraig had contracted a strain of Meningitis B (Neisseria meningitidis) which had resulted in meningitis and meningicoccal septicaemia.
“The ‘meningitis rash’ is the one thing I always would have looked out for if I was concerned about Pádraig contracting this horrible disease - Pádraig did not display any signs of the rash until the day after he was admitted to hospital,” said Maria. “If we had waited to the rash came out we would be telling a very different story today. The doctor told us his system was shutting down at that stage and his life and limbs were at risk. Over the next week the doctors and nurses fought hard to keep Pádraig alive and keep his limbs safe. It was very hard to watch as his little hands and feet became dusky when his circulation dipped. The staff in the Royal Paediatric Intensive Care Unit were wonderful, highly skilled and sensitive to our needs.”
Maria said the day Pádraig came off life support and left the Intensive Care ward they were filled with elation.
“Unfortunately, Pádraig spent most of that day coming in and out of seizures. Before this point the doctors had been unable to establish if the infection had reached his brain, the seizures and lumbar puncture suggested they may have. Pádraig had an EEG and an MRI brain scan, the results of both were promising. He spent a week in Allen ward in RVHSC and then a few days in Altnagelvin before we got him home. It was the best feeling to get Pádraig home, to hold him in our arms and for me to feed him after weeks of being tube fed,” said Maria.
One year on, and Maria said “our little Pádraig” is a fun loving 16-month-old boy - running and climbing with force”.
“We can’t keep up,” said Maria. “His hearing appears to be perfect and we have yet to see any ill effects of the meningitis. We know that there might be struggles in the future, but we are prepared to meet them, having been through such a tough time we feel we can cope with anything.”
The couple have raised £5,500 in total by sponsored walks and Maria explained the money was donated to Altnagelvin A&E, PICU in the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children and the Meningitis Research Foundation. Maria encourages other parents to act if they feel in any way concerned about their child.
“Every medical professional we met was respectful of our concerns. We would also stress the importance of getting your child vaccinated,” said Maria. “Pádraig had been given the first dose of the Men B vaccine at eight weeks old, but unfortunately this alone was not enough to protect him as there are three in total.”
Maria and Vincent thank everyone for their generous donations- family, friends, local businesses, clubs and schools.
“Pádraig is such a character, he loves to be chased and is so sociable,” said Maria. “We will forever remember the feeling of fear and devastation of February 2016. We are only too aware of how lucky and blessed we are to still have Pádraig today. He is a very special boy.”