Hornchurch mum tells of baby girl’s meningitis scare in hope of raising money for research

A relieved Hornchurch mum has told of her daughter’s meningitis scare in the hope of raising cash for research.

Sarah Luisis, of Lyndhurst Drive, believes the care her baby daughter Florence received at Queen’s Hospital was second-to-none.

But Sarah, 31, remains painfully aware of the lack of a vaccine against the most common strain, meningitis B – because her friend’s daughter, Aaliyah Wells, died of it three years ago.

Four-month-old Florence was rushed to Queen’s on Saturday, November 17, with breathing difficulties. While in triage, doctors began to suspect she could have the illness.

“I felt like I’d been hit by a bus,” said Sarah.


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Despite antibiotics and oxygen support, Florence’s condition got worse – until a terrifying moment the next night.

“The nurse looking after us noticed Florence wasn’t any better,” said Sarah. “She went to fetch Annette, the sister in charge that day. I stood at the foot of her cot watching Florence so helpless, and suddenly she stopped breathing.

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“It felt like a lifetime but could only have been a matter of seconds.

“Annette reacted quickly and called the doctors in. I remember her saying something like: ‘Come on, little one, breathe.’”

Luckily, Florence did – and despite a few more bumps along the way she awoke the next morning on the road to recovery.

Soon after, blood tests determined she only had a chest infection.

But Sarah hasn’t forgotten the way she felt that night – and wants to help prevent other parents going through what she and Aaliyah’s family did.

“Since losing Aaliyah, the Meningitis Trust has been a charity I like to support,” she said. “It’s a constant worry for parents and many children don’t receive treatment fast enough.”

She also praised the “fantastic, professional, and prompt” care Florence received throughout her hospital stay, singling out one nurse in particular.

“You could see it wasn’t just a job to Annette – she’s passionate about what she does and I can’t thank her enough for the time and care she gave Florence.”

Hospital trust boss Averil Dongworth said: “I’m delighted Florence is fully recovered and back at home after her time in Queen’s.

“It’s so gratifying to hear Sarah’s praise for the care she received and the dedication of our staff.

“We have a hard-working and caring team on the Tropical Lagoon ward, and it means a lot to them to hear they’re appreciated.”

Sarah’s brother-in-law Gordon is running the London Marathon for the Meningitis Trust next year. To sponsor him, visit www.justgiving.com/GordonNutley.

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