Mum whose son almost died of toxic shock warns of dangers

Rowan Haining, 11, from Worthing, is now on the mend after his battle with blood poisoning

Rowan Haining, 11, from Worthing, is now on the mend after his battle with blood poisoning

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A mum has warned of the dangers of toxic shock after her son almost died from blood poisoning.

Abigail Morra, 35, of Farncombe Road, Worthing, said parents need to follow their instincts after her son Rowan Haining, 11, was initially diagnosed with a stomach bug.

Rowan while he was in intensive care at Southampton General Hospital

Rowan while he was in intensive care at Southampton General Hospital

She said: “Someone was definitely looking down on him because he shouldn’t be here right now. I have a whole new appreciation for him; all those silly little things that annoy you aren’t important any more.

“It has left me traumatised but making people aware of the dangers makes me feel a bit better. People need to follow their gut instincts because if I hadn’t Rowan wouldn’t have made it.”

The pair were on holiday in the New Forest on August 23 when Rowan became unwell.

He was suffering from sickness and diarrhoea, breathlessness, a raised temperature of 39.3 degrees Celsius and a pain in his hip.

Rowan Haining, 11 from Worthing

Rowan Haining, 11 from Worthing

They came home early and were told by doctors that Rowan had gastroenteritis – but Abigail, a nurse of 11 years, felt something was still not right.

“He was too ill for a tummy bug; he was confused, dizzy and really sick. He kept trying to lay on the floor to sleep so he could be cold. One time he got onto the bathroom floor and laid there face down.

“I thought ‘that’s it’ and I carried him down the stairs – he is the same size as me – and took him to A and E.”

It was at Worthing Hospital that he was finally diagnosed with toxic shock syndrome. It had been caused by a bacterial infection in his hip that was releasing poisonous toxins into his bloodstream and attacking his major organs, including his lungs, heart and kidneys.

He was put to sleep and driven by ambulance to Southampton General Hospital, which Abigail said was ‘a blur’.

“I couldn’t really believe it was happening. I was distraught, in sheer panic. We set off at 5 or 6pm and it took an hour to get us from Worthing to Southampton in rush hour traffic. I could feel us going really fast but the whole journey was a blur.”

Rowan was hooked up to an internal ventilation machine for two weeks in the children’s intensive care unit while he was stabilised.

Abigail said that when Rowan woke up on September 6, he had double vision and his left eye was half closed and flickering.

A series of head scans revealed that Rowan had a bleed on the back of his brain and several blood clots caused by the poisoning.

After seeing a neurologist, Rowan was released from hospital and is now back at home. He is visited by a nurse every day who gives him antibiotics through a catheter from his upper arm to his heart, but this means he has not been able to start his first year at Chatsmore Catholic High School.

Rowan said he was feeling better, adding: “I was told I had more chance of winning the Euromillions than getting toxic shock.”

Abigail said that the family are all still dealing with the emotional impact of the ordeal.

“I don’t feel the same as I did before, and Rowan is a lot more upset than usual. He is usually quite chatty but he has been very quiet.

“An 11-year-old shouldn’t be questioning their mortality.”

According to Southampton Hospital, the symptoms that people should look out for with blood poisoning are flu-like symptoms, sleepy, irritable or confused behaviour, fast breathing and heartbeat, high or very low temperature, passing urine less often and mottled or discoloured skin.

If two or more of these symptoms match then it is important to seek medical help fast.

For more information, visit sepsistrust.org.

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