A four-year-old girl died of a rare meningitis infection just days after complaining of head and stomach pains.
Courtney May, 20, said daughter Evie was her ‘happy, normal self’ at breakfast but then began being sick and having seizures.
The youngster, of Radcliffe, Greater Manchester, was rushed to Manchester Children’s Hospital where scans revealed she had brain damage.
Evie was put in an induced coma, but she never recovered and died days later.
Tests found she had contracted Meningococcal type B, a bacteria which infected her spine and brain.
A vaccine has been given to babies against the infection since 2015, meaning Evie missed out by a matter of months.
Evie May, four, pictured left and right, with baby brother Carter, died of a rare strain of meningitis just days after complaining of a headache and stomach pains
Mother Courtney, pictured with (from left) Carter, partner James and Evie, said her daughter had never been ill before and she still ‘cannot get her head around what happened’
Courtney said Evie, big sister to nine-month-old Carter, was round at her friend’s house on March 22 when she began to feel ill.
It was just a normal Friday morning and she’d been her ‘happy, normal self’, she said.
‘We’d gone out for breakfast, but then she didn’t want anything to eat. She said she had a headache. We went back home and then my friend came to pick us up to go to her house in Moston.
‘When we got out of the car she said she had bellyache. I said ‘are you going to be sick?’
‘I tried giving her Calpol. She was sick in the toilet. Then she fell asleep on the sofa. Then she was waking up and speaking to me as normal.’
The pair went back home, but Miss May said Evie was ‘heavier than normal’ and feeling sleepy.
She added: ‘I took her into the house and took her temperature. It was 40.1C. I rang 111 and they sent an ambulance straight away.
‘I tried to wake her up and her eyes shot open. Her pupils went massive. Her arms and her legs went stiff. I didn’t know what was going on.
‘She was trying to go to sleep. The ambulance came within 10 or 15 minutes. They told me she was having a seizure.’
The paramedics put the blue lights on and sped Evie and her worried mother to North Manchester General Hospital.
Miss May said: ‘I was petrified. She was still having seizures. They thought it could’ve been down to her temperature. I was absolutely terrified.
When I think of seizures, I think of shaking. She was just going stiff. We got to hospital at 6.30pm.
‘When they arrived, medics put a cannula in Evie’s hand and told her mother her consciousness was ‘going’.
Miss May, pictured right with Evie, said her daughter was an ‘amazing and beautiful chatterbox’ and is trying to raise awareness of the condition to stop other parents going through the same ordeal. Pictured right is Evie with stepfather James and brother Carter
Miss May said what followed was a ‘blur’ with Evie given a CT scan, and gave her antibiotics, antiviral medication and anti-epileptic medication.
Doctors said Evie had suffered brain damage and she was put in an induced coma and was taken to Manchester Children’s Hospital for specialist care at around 3am on Saturday.
She was put on a ventilator and transferred to the paediatric intensive care unit. She spent four days there getting treatment.
What is Meningococcal group B?
The Meningococcal group B bacteria causes life-threatening infections worldwide, including meningitis and blood poisoning, and is the leading infectious killer of babies and young children in the UK.
There are 12 known groups of meningococcal bacteria, and group B (MenB) is responsible for about 90 per cent of meningococcal infections in the UK.
Meningitis and sepsis caused by meningococcal group B bacteria can affect people of any age but are most common in babies and young children.
Meningococcal infections tend to come in bursts. In the past 20 years, between 500 and 1,700 people every year, mainly babies and young children, have developed MenB disease, with around 1 in 10 dying from the infection.
Many of those who survive have a permanent disability, such as an amputation, brain damage or epilepsy.
A vaccine was introduced in 2015 and is recommended to be administered to babies when they turn eight weeks, 16 weeks and one year old, as part of the NHS’s routine vaccination programme.
The MenB vaccine used is called Bexsero. It’s given as a single injection into a baby’s thigh.
England was the first country in the world to offer a national, routine, publicly funded MenB vaccination programme using the Bexsero vaccine.
But tragically, there was nothing that could be done to save her from the deadly infection.
Miss May said: ‘I just broke down. I just sat there thinking “why has this happened?”
‘I still can’t get my head around it now. I was hoping for the best, that she was going to get better. She’s never been ill or in hospital.
‘She’s only ever been happy and healthy. I am 20-years-old and I have never heard of Meningococcal type B.
‘The nurses said there was nothing they could have done. She had it in her spine and her brain.’
‘I want to make sure that people know about this. I thought a rash was usually a sign of meningitis. But eight times out of ten people don’t get a rash. I thought she had a normal bug.’
Paying tribute to her daughter, Miss May added: ‘She was amazing. She was always happy.
‘She was a chatter box. She had a massive smile and big brown eyes. When you looked at her you could fall into her eyes. She was beautiful. She was like a little mum to her baby brother Carter.’
Miss May said the days since her death have been ‘dreadful’ and that she keeps thinking Evie is going to run into a room ‘any minute’.
But she said strength and solidarity of her loved ones has got her through.
Miss May said: ‘I have got a lot of good support around me. I have got lots of family and friends.’
Evie has also given the gift of life to others – she has donated her heart, lungs, liver, kidneys and pancreas.
A lthree-year-old girl has been given her heart in a life-saving transplant, and Miss May the thought of gestures like that provides her with a shred of comfort.
She added: ‘She [Evie] will live through other people. She has given that little girl a chance.’
A GoFundMe page has since been set up to raise money for her funeral.