TEENAGER Eleanor Wild is lucky to be alive this Christmas after a serious bout of flu proved almost fatal.
This time last year, the 14-year-old was battling for life in Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary after she was struck down with the H1N1 swine flu virus.
Wheelchair-bound Eleanor has cerebral palsy and type 1 diabetes and each year she is protected against flu with the NHS flu jab as she is classed as an ‘at risk’ group.
But last year the Northern Counties School pupil, of Horsley, Northumberland, didn’t get her free vaccine and was admitted to hospital with pneumonia after contracting the potentially deadly virus.
Her mum Caroline, 38, an NHS worker, said: “Eleanor was in hospital on Christmas day last year and it was a horrible time for all the family.
“Every year Eleanor gets the flu jab but it just seemed to drop off the list.
“We were back and forth with hospital appointments and it was something we didn’t get around to doing.”
Last December Caroline’s other two children Ben, 12, and Lucy, nine, were ill with colds and both had time off school before they recovered. Eleanor had been on a respite break weekend and came home feeling unwell, so Caroline called the doctor who said she should go to hospital.
“When Eleanor arrived at hospital her condition seemed to deteriorate extremely quickly and it was then that we realised how serious it was,” explained Caroline.
“She was having difficulty breathing and the hospital staff seemed quite anxious about her condition. It was a really frightening time and I was very worried about her.”
Eleanor was admitted to the paediatric Intensive Care Unit at the RVI where staff continued to work on her before she eventually stabilised.
The teenager was placed on a ventilator for four days and was in intensive care for 10 days, remaining in hospital throughout the festive season.
Caroline said the experience was very difficult on her and her partner Tim Docking, 44, an NHS worker, and the couple were now determined to make this festive season extra special for all the family.
“We spent the whole time in hospital and it almost felt like Christmas didn’t happen as we were just going through the motions,” explained Caroline. “We wanted to make sure the younger children didn’t miss out but it was very hard as Eleanor was in hospital and it was awful that she wasn’t at home.
“This year it is going to be a big family Christmas as relatives who live away are visiting and we’ll make a fuss of everybody.”
Despite Eleanor’s complex needs she had always been a healthy person but since contracting swine flu she has continued to get chest infections and has been in and out of hospital.
Eleanor was one of the first to get her flu jab this year and Caroline is urging all those who are eligible for the vaccine to get it as soon as possible. The mother-of-three said: “Eleanor almost died because she wasn’t protected.
“It was the worst time of our lives and the seriousness of her condition could have been avoided with the vaccine. I feel terrible Eleanor didn’t get the vaccine last year as it is so important for those in at risk groups to be immunised.”
Eleanor almost died because she wasn’t protected. It was the worst time of our lives