‘My baby was lucky to live through the night’

First published in News Herald Series: Photograph of the Author by

IT IS every parent’s worst nightmare to be told their 10-month-old baby will not make it through the night.

But that was the reality facing Melinda and Simon Lancaster, when their daughter Amelia contracted meningitis.

From a healthy baby at home, just hours later the Abingdon tot was hooked up to life-saving machines in intensive care.

Luckily, Amelia made it through that night and is now a happy toddler.

Her mum has urged other parents to make sure they recognise the signs of meningitis and act as quickly as possible.

The 26-year-old said: “If you think it is at all possible your child has meningitis, get to the hospital now.

“The longer you leave it, it could be too late.”

In June, Amelia woke up with a high fever. Mrs Lancaster said: “She got all floppy and let out a high-pitched scream when we tried to move her. Her soft spot had become very swollen.

“She kept moaning and it wasn’t her normal cry. Then she started vomiting and we knew this wasn’t normal.”

The couple took Amelia straight to Oxford’s John Radcliffe Hospital , where her condition started to deteriorate quickly. It was only when purple spots started to appear all over her body that doctors knew for sure – she had meningitis.

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Mrs Lancaster said: “Everything was so quick – it was really scary. After they took her, we couldn’t see her for three hours and when we did, she didn’t look like our little girl any more. She was covered in spots, swollen and hooked up to all these machines.”

Thanks to the quick actions of her parents and the doctors, Amelia lived through the night.

She lost all the fingers and the thumb on her right hand and still suffers side effects from the disease.

Her mum said: “She is still full of energy. Sometimes she can’t keep up with her friends but she is so happy.”

This week is national Meningitis Awareness Week. The disease affects around 3,600 people in the UK and Ireland each year.


Fever and/or vomiting

Severe headache

Limb, joint, muscle pain

Cold hands and feet, shivering

Pale or mottled skin

Breathing fast, breathlessness


Stiff neck

Dislike of bright lights

Very sleepy, vacant, difficulty to wake, floppiness

Confused, delirious



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