Baby loses his limbs to sepsis following an undiagnosed throat infection
A mum has revealed of her heartbreak after her baby lost his arms and legs after an undiagnosed throat infection lead to deadly sepsis.
Abigail Wardle was twice told by doctors that her 11-month old son, Oliver Aisthorpe, might not survive the illness that was ravaging his body and to expect the worst.
Even after beating the infection, Abigail, from Cleethorpes, Lincs, had to endure the horror of little Oliver's leg self-amputating and coming away in her hand as she held him in his hospital bed.
But just four months on, having made an incredible recovery, Oliver is back at home, full of smiles and awaiting his first set of prosthetic legs.
Now, Abigail is speaking out about the family’s ordeal in a bid to help other parents spot the signs of the potentially deadly infection.
Abigail first took her son to an out-of-hours GP on Saturday, March 16, when she noticed his soft spot appeared to be sunken and she worried he was dehydrated.
"Oliver had seemed a bit under the weather.
"But that night, he got more ill and seemed lifeless. When I moved him, it was as though his bones were aching,’ she explains.
Having been told by a GP to give Oliver fluids and Calpol she was sent home.
By the next day, however, he had deteriorated, so the mum once again took Oliver to see an out of hours GP in the hospital.
But on arrival, a nurse was immediately concerned and the infant was rushed through to emergency care where doctors began battling to save his life.
"Everything was a blur,” Abigail explained of the moment. “I still had no idea what was wrong with Oliver, I was just trying to hold it together as they were putting him to sleep.
"I could hear a doctor on the phone to another hospital asking how to treat Oliver.
"His hand and feet had started to go purple, and I just remember thinking he must be cold and telling them to put some socks on him.”
Even though she knew he had been put into a coma, Abigail was still unaware what was wrong with Oliver, until a doctor told them how poorly he was and a nurse burst into tears while talking to her and Oliver’s dad.
"It was only then that I realised how serious it was,” she says.
Doctors discovered that sepsis had developed from an undiagnosed throat infection, although his mother said that Oliver had showed no symptoms of this.
They stabilised him but warned his parents that if his condition worsened, they would not be able to save him.
The sepsis had caused severe damage to Oliver’s hands and legs, which turned black as the tissue died off.
As doctors waited to determine how much could be saved, one of his legs deteriorated dramatically, eventually coming away as Abigail an a nurse were trying to move him.
READ MORE: Baby born without skin on almost his entire body defies doctors odds to survive
Eventually the decision was made that all limbs had to be removed.
"The limbs were heavy and uncomfortable - Oliver was miserable, I know it sounds like an odd thing for a mother to say but I was desperate for them to take them off.
"Once he had his limbs removed, he was like a different child - so happy and full of life, it seemed like a relief for him."
Miraculously last month, Oliver was discharged from hospital and is now adapting to life without his limbs.
Abigail has revealed how proud she is of her son and how happy she is to see him smiling at home, learning to roll and play with his toys.
"Some people might feel sorry for us but I feel like the luckiest mum in the world,” she says. “I still have Oliver with us - he might not have any hands or feet but he is still my smiley, brave little boy.”
His mother now wants parents and GPs to be aware of the possibility that a child’s unexplained illness could actually be sepsis.
"I want his story to be used to help spread awareness and teach other parents and GPs who maybe don't have specialist paediatric training, about the signs of sepsis,” she says.
"I had no idea how ill Oliver was but if he hadn't gone into hospital when he did, he wouldn't be here."
Ron Daniels, chief executive of the Sepsis Trust, said: “Oliver’s case reminds us that sepsis can strike at any age, with often devastating consequences.
“Sepsis is a notoriously difficult condition to spot, and to do so relies upon health professionals being alert to the possibility of sepsis in any patient who is deteriorating without a clear cause.”
READ MORE: Premature baby born three months early was saved by bubble wrap
Sepsis: signs and symptoms
Sepsis has been making headlines recently after it was revealed last month that patients' lives are being put at risk because of delays in them receiving treatment for sepsis.
According to research by BBC News a quarter of patients with sepsis have experienced delays in getting treatment.
If sepsis is suspected patients are supposed to be put on an antibiotic drip within an hour.
But the BBC found that there were huge variations between different hospital trusts, with a number failing to quickly treat most of their patients in one hour.
According to the the UK Sepsis Trust sepsis is a serious complication of an infection, that without quick treatment can lead to multiple organ failure and death.
Latest figures estimate that there are about 250,000 cases every year in the UK, and more than 50,000 deaths, that’s around 5 people in the UK being killed by sepsis every hour.
According to the UK Sepsis Trust sepsis can initially look like flu, gastroenteritis or a chest infection.
But there is no one sign to look out for, and symptoms are often different between adults and children.
For a full run down of the symptoms of sepsis, risk factors and treatments click here.