A rare bacterial infection left parents to a newborn baby terrified.
Rachel Millbank and her husband, Tim, 34, were looking forward to a few days in Cromer, Norkfolk, – their first getaway as a family-of-three.
Their first morning there, Rachel checked on her baby, Elliot, and found him unresponsive, as well as looking ‘grey’.
The mum-of-one was told to go to the nearest hospital immediately as time was running out.
‘It’s a terrifying vision I will never forget,’ Rachel, from Skelmersdale, said. ‘Elliot was lying in his bed and I spotted that he wasn’t moving, it was horrifying.
‘Initially, when he was first admitted [to hospital], he was so poorly that he was taken out of Tim’s arms and straight to the emergency department.’
Elliot was suffering from a deadly case of severe pneumonia and sepsis, which turned into MRSA – an antibiotic resistant bacterial infection.
Rachel said: ‘It was clear that sepsis was a major concern and because his body was shutting down, it took ages to get a line into him and they tried everywhere.
‘One of the things I will never forget is the fact he wasn’t crying at this stage and I knew then that this was very serious. It’s changed our lives forever.’
Elliot was first rushed into hospital in March 2019 – but this continued to happen for months.
Rachel, a marketing assistant, and Tim, a recruitment team leader, recall their newborn initially displaying symptoms of a cold, with a chesty cough and blocked nose in the days leading up to his battle.
As they were due to go on holiday, they visited their local doctors, but with no concerns raised. Then his condition deteriorated.
She said: ‘When we arrived, he was lethargic and not his normal self – then, in the early hours of the morning, I found him with laboured breathing and cross-eyed.
‘All his limbs were tucked into his body, like the foetus’ position, so I went into absolute panic.
‘We didn’t know what was going on, but we were so scared of losing him.
‘As lots of doctors and nurses kept crowding him, it was such a terrifying time.
‘One of the lasting memories I have is many consultants standing around his bed looking perplexed.’
After 13 days, the tough decision to transfer him to hospital was made due to the severity of his case, where he was placed into a coma.
Rachel said: ‘I watched him drift off as his eyes closed and I didn’t have a clue if they would ever open again.
‘It felt like an eternity. When they found out his actual diagnosis of MRSA-PVL, myself and my husband were given medicated shampoo to ensure it wasn’t on us too.
‘No one had a clue where it had come from, especially as he was only 10 weeks old.
‘After a few days, he started to show signs of improvement, such as the necrotising pneumonia mass shrinking on his chest.
‘Luckily, after one week, he was able to come out of the coma – but he was awake for over 56 hours while they monitored him due to coming off the morphine, which was awful to watch.’
A month later, their baby was finally well enough to come home.
Now, he’s made a full recovery and while there is a small amount of scarring on his chest, this hasn’t affected the four-year-old in his daily life, apart from when he gets a cold.
Tim is now raising funds for The Sick Children’s Trust, who looked after his son, and has taken on the challenge of running 100 miles throughout September.
So far, he’s raised £1,700, but most importantly, they hope to raise awareness for the signs to look out for.
Rachel added: ‘I spent all my time finding out exactly what medication he was on and why, as that was my way of coping.
‘At the time, you have to do what’s needed to get through.
‘It was so draining though because there was nothing we could do and it’s caused a lot of tears and numbness.
‘Elliot is happy, determined, and inquisitive now – such a strong-willed fighter who gave us a hell of a fright.
‘His stubbornness does drive me crazy, but I’m convinced this is the reason he’s alive today.
‘It does make you think how fragile life is and how unexpected things can be.
‘I’m a different person and I do struggle with the lasting memories of it all.
‘Tim and I went through something you wouldn’t wish upon your worst enemy, but we did come out stronger on the other side.’
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