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28 October 2014
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  Inside Out - West: Monday 6, September 2004


Lydia learns to live life without her legs
Lydia beat Meningitis but lost her legs to the infection

Three-year-old Lydia should be getting herself ready for playschool, instead due to a tragic set of circumstances she is recovering from having both legs amputated below the knee.

Lydia is a typical three-year-old girl, excited about a playschool sports day, except for this little girl just walking is a constant struggle.

She has had to adapt to using prosthetic limbs after both of her legs were surgically removed in December 2003 and her family are left asking how it could happen.

Medical misdiagnosis

Late one Friday night in 2003 Lydia became ill with a temperature of 105 degrees. This was the day that her family's lives changed forever.

Seeing their child so ill, Lydia's parents Tony and Jodie took her to their local doctor that weekend.

"She was hallucinating and believed that spiders were crawling over her skin," remembered Tony.

Lydia's parents Tony and Jodie
Lydia's parents Tony and Jodie tried to get help for their daughter

She was seen by doctors from the "out of hours" GP service and sent home, only to return on Sunday after there was no improvement.

The second GP diagnosed an ear infection and Lydia was again sent home, this time with antibiotics.

By Monday Lydia's health was rapidly deteriorating so her mother Jodie rang the health centre once again, this time asking for a doctor to visit her daughter at home.

The practice stated that they didn't offer this service, although a doctor did talk to Jodie on the phone and said he felt it was a virus.

Life threatening condition

Lydia was now so ill that her parents rushed her to the health centre in spite of the diagnosis.

When the doctors saw her they immediately admitted her to hospital, her condition was life threatening.

Meningitis Facts

Meningitis is the inflammation of the membranes around the brain and spinal cord

The disease is caused by a bacterial or viral infection

Viral Meningitis is the most common form of the disease in the UK and is usually less severe than the
bacterial strain

Bacterial Meningitis can be life threatening and is caused by a range of different bacteria

There are vaccines available to prevent certain strains of Meningitis but not every form of the disease is covered

Around 10 to 25% of the population are carriers of the meningococcal bacteria

Source: The Meningitis Trust

Tony commented, "They said if they had rated it (her illness) out of 10, it was a 10. She couldn't have got any more ill."

Lydia was diagnosed with Meningitis.

Her little body overwhelmed by the infection, Lydia suffered full organ failure and was put on drugs to keep her lungs, heart and kidneys functioning.

Not one to give up easily, Lydia survived the initial trauma but her legs were left so badly damaged that she had to have them amputated just below the knee during a three-hour operation.

Life goes on

Two months on and Lydia is recovering remarkably well and Inside Out joined the family on a very special day.

After weeks of fundraising, from parachute jumps to coffee mornings, family and friends have helped raise the £5,500 needed to get Lydia a pair of prosthetic legs.

As the little girl learns to walk again, her family are left asking whether all this would have been prevented had Lydia been treated earlier.

Lydia walks again with her new legs
Lydia has learnt to walk again with her prosthetic legs

A couple of weeks later Lydia returned to playschool with her new legs and even joined in at a sports day.

However, life will certainly never be the same for Lydia and her family, who have gone through a life changing experience together.

It is Lydia's strength and courage that keeps her parents going. Although proud of their daughter's resilience, Jodie and Tony can't help but worry about the future ahead.

They have started to fight for compensation to help pay for Lydia's legs and are still awaiting the verdict of an inquiry into her care at Chippenham Hospital.

The Day I Cried - by Health Correspondent Matthew Hill

Matthew Hill in a hospitsal
Matthew Hill

It was just another news day in December. I had a tip off that a three-year-old girl was about to have her legs amputated because she had flu. Lydia's parents Tony and Jodie agreed for me to come and see them at the hospital.

As soon as I arrived I realised that this was not flu but a form of meningitis that sounds like flu, Haemophilus Influenzae. Here was a three year old girl, the same age as my youngest, in extreme pain pointing to her bandaged feet. By this stage septicemia had set in and amputation was imminent.

It was already fairly late in the day but talking it through with Tony and Jodie I realised that there had been a very long delay in getting Lydia into hospital. For three days continuously they had taken their daughter to see a variety of GPs complaining of a frighteningly high temperature, hallucination and vomiting.

What struck me the most about Tony and Jodie was their determination to find out what may have gone wrong. It seems incredible that, facing this horrendous operation, they were prepared to talk about it publicly. I was also struck that, mercifully, Lydia didn't fully appreciate what was about to happen to her. If she had been any older it would have been even more cruel.

The saddest moment was seeing Tony pick up his little girl and take her to the anesthetic bed where she was to be sedated. I felt I had to keep a smile on my face throughout this but her experience affected me profoundly - with tears as I drove back.

See also ...

Health - Meningitis Information
Health - Vaccination Guide for Travellers

On the rest of the web
Meningitis Trust
NHS Direct: Self Help Guide

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external websites

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Readers' Comments

We are not adding any new comments to this page but you can still read some of the comments previously submitted by readers.

Laura Leonard
My daughter, also called Lydia, had pneaumacoccal meningtis at 10 months old. A locum doctor had told me not to panic 2 days before we nearly lost her. Thank heavens the care that Lydia received following this was beyond reproach. My heart goes out to this little girl, as my Liddy could so nearly have been the same. I so much admire the family. With friends and family, I will be doing the Meningtis Trusts Five Valleys Walk on Sunday 26th September and hope to raise lots of cash and awareness for this stealth killer. If I flag on the 21 mile journey I will be sure to think of both my Liddy and this marvellous girl. Good Luck for the future Lydia, you are an inspiration to us all.

Inside Out West
To Mrs and Mrs Holmes, or anyone who would like to get in contact with Lydia's family via Inside Out please email us at:

Mrs L Booth
Have just watched Lydias story, it was history repeating itself. April 2001 my 6 wk old daughter contracted meningitis. I to took her 3 times to Chippenham Hospital Casualty dept. She was finally admitted to RUH for 3 weeks. As a result of this she has been left deaf, has speech and language problems and has a left hemiplegia (weakness to her left side) to name just a few of her problems. At the end of the day I'm grateful that the Doctor I saw on visit 3 acted so quickly, and that the wonderful staff at the RUH were there for her when she needed them most. Although in Lydias case, it would seem that Chippenham hospital hadnt learnt from previous mistakes.

Mr & Mrs Holmes
Would like to contact family as we have been through the same in dec 1999. We are still in the process of a clinical negligence claim although they have admitted liability. Our daughter too has had hands made by Bob in Dorset. We are in Wiltshire and would like to offer our support and we have raised over £25,000 for a new life support machine. Lydia is a very brave little girl just like our little Chloe. Good luck and hope we can get in contact soon .

Christine Kneath
I am 30 and had Meningitis 5 years ago, the doctors said it was a migraine and only went to hospital when my father drove me off his own back, if it hadn't I'd have died. I watched this programe and cried for your family a I have two young daugters of very similar age and felt for you in every way, you try to protect them and do everything you can, but you are all so strong and Lydia is absolutley amazing you inspired me with your stength and positivity. Me and my families thoughts are with you.

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