Meningitis baby saved at North Tyneside General hospital

PARENTS of a tiny baby were told he could have died if they waited any longer to bring him to hospital – but might have been sent home if they had come in earlier.

Jack Stone who has overcome meningitis, with mum Gemma and dad Chris
Jack Stone who has overcome meningitis, with mum Gemma and dad Chris

PARENTS of a tiny baby were told he could have died if they waited any longer to bring him to hospital – but might have been sent home if they had come in earlier.

Chris and Gemma Stone rushed 24-day-old Jack to North Tyneside General hospital when they feared he had been struck down with meningitis.

They were told that he could have been sent home if they had come in a few hours earlier, but might not have survived if they had waited until the next day to get treatment.

“When we look back at pictures, we realise just how ill he was,” said father Chris, a firefighter from Morpeth, Northumberland. “We know how lucky he is to have pulled through.

“If we had taken him to the doctors a few hours earlier, he probably would have been sent home with some Calpol.

“But if we’d left him overnight, I don’t know if he would have even woken up.”

Jack was just 24 days old when he was diagnosed with neonatal meningitis, one of the most dangerous diseases for newborn babies in the UK.

First-time parents Chris, 33, and Gemma, 29, had noticed he was under the weather but serious illness didn’t cross their minds.

“Jack was out of sorts that day,” said Chris. “The frightening thing is that he didn’t have a rash or any alarming symptoms, he just wasn't feeding very well and had a bit of a temperature.

“Luckily I checked his temperature before bed at 10pm. I called the doctor as it was so high – and we dashed straight to the hospital.

“By midnight, Jack had been given a lumbar puncture and at 2am he was diagnosed with neonatal meningitis.

“All we could do was wait to see if he would survive the night. It was absolutely terrifying.”

Meningitis, also known as Group B streptococcus, often occurs in the first week of life, known as “early-onset”. But Jack had developed the “late-onset” form that can develop from a week to a few months after birth.

Babies who survive can be left with speech, hearing, and vision problems as well as learning disabilities, and many lose fingers, toes or even limbs.

“We were told the illness has a 20 to 30% fatality rate for babies,” said Chris. “Many more are left with disabilities.

“But Jack was one of the lucky ones because we acted quickly and he was diagnosed within hours, so he could get the lifesaving medical treatment he so desperately needed.”

Jack spent four days on strong antibiotics and was in hospital for over two weeks. Now eight months old, he has made a full recovery.

Now his grateful parents want to make sure other youngsters’ stories have as happy an ending as Jack’s.

They are completing the Three Peaks Challenge – climbing Ben Nevis, Scafell Pike and Snowdon in just 36 hours – to raise money for the Meningitis Trust.

Anyone wanting to donate to the Three Peaks team should go to www.virginmoneygiving.com/team/JOSUnited

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