Kent

Thousands sign petition after mum shares image of girl's meningitis

Faye Burdett Image copyright Just Giving / Charlene Reed
Image caption Faye Burdett was taken to A&E with a rash on her forehead but died days later

A mother has shared an image of her daughter before her death from meningitis to back a campaign for vaccines to be given to all children.

Faye Burdett, aged two, from Maidstone, Kent died on Valentine's Day after fighting the infection for 11 days.

Her family said they were enduring "a pain you cannot describe" after the toddler contracted meningitis B.

Their photographs of Faye, including one of her in hospital, have been widely shared on social media.

'Massive operation'

The most widely shared image shows her covered in a rash from the infection lying in her hospital bed.

More than 331,000 people have signed a petition calling for the NHS vaccination programme to be widened to all children.

Image copyright Just Giving / Charlene Reed
Image caption Faye's mother Jenny published this picture of her daughter to raise awareness

A vaccine to protect against meningitis B became available on the NHS for babies in September but parents who want to have older children vaccinated must pay privately.

"We campaign for change in her memory," said Faye's mother, Jenny.

"Faye was taken to A&E with a rash on her forehead. She was then transferred by South Thames Retrieval Service to Evelina Children's Hospital, where her heart stopped in the ambulance.

"They revived her and spent hours working on stabilising her.

"We were given a 1% 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."

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Media captionFaye's parents said they were campaigning in her memory

It was then that doctors presented the family with an option of amputation.

"The extent of removal was massive, full leg amputation and one arm and plastic surgery," Jenny said.

"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."

Charlene Reed, who set up a JustGiving page in memory of Faye, to raise money for the Evelina hospice, said Faye's mother shared the picture to raise awareness.

"It's not nice, but it is reality. It's what this disease did to Faye which made her sadly lose her life on Sunday," she said.

Sue Davie, chief executive of Meningitis Now, said: "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.

"We continue to campaign to see the Men B vaccine rolled out, particularly to at-risk groups, to insure a future where no-one in the UK loses their life to meningitis."

A Department of Health spokesman said: "When any new immunisation programme is introduced, there has to be a date to determine eligibility. A decision based on the best independent clinical recommendation to ensure we can protect those children most at risk of Men B.

"When our nationwide Men B vaccination programme was introduced last year, England became the first country to protect our babies from this devastating disease."

What is meningitis B?

  • It is a bacterial infection that usually affects children under one year old.
  • There are about 1,200 cases each year in the UK.
  • Symptoms include a high fever with cold hands and feet, confusion, vomiting and headaches.
  • With early diagnosis and antibiotic treatment, most people will make a full recovery.
  • It can be fatal in one in 10 cases - and about one in four of those who survive are left with long-term problems, such as amputation, deafness, epilepsy and learning difficulties.
  • Meningitis is an infection of the meninges - the membrane that surrounds the brain and spinal cord.
  • There are effective vaccines against other strains of meningitis - but, until now, not against Meningitis B.

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