A mum has shared her nightmare ordeal after her son’s life was on the line due to a rare bacterial infection – and now she’s warning parents of the signs to look out for.
Rachel Millbank’s worst fear happened when she went to check on her newborn, Elliot, in the middle of the night and found him unresponsive, as well as looking “grey.”
The mum-of-one and her husband, Tim, 34, rushed to call the emergency services, who advised to go to the nearest hospital immediately as time was “running out.”
While there, he was diagnosed with a deadly case of severe pneumonia and sepsis, which turned into methicillin–resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) – an antibiotic resistant bacterial infection.
Now, the 34-year-old is sharing their harrowing ordeal to warn other parents.
“It’s a terrifying vision I will never forget,” Rachel, from Skelmersdale, told NeedToKnow.co.uk.
“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.
“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 – this would become the start of a nightmare to last months.
Rachel, a marketing assistant, and Tim, a recruitment team leader, recalls their newborn initially displaying symptoms of a cold, such as 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, they set off to Norfolk for their first holiday as parents, where they were looking forward to making new memories as a family.
But as his condition started deteriorating quickly, their trip became filled with panic and horror.
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 Addenbrooke’s 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 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.”
In April 2019, the parents were overjoyed to find out their baby was finally allowed 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, who is raising funds in support of the team who saved their son, The Sick Children’s Trust, 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.”