Girl, 4, dies from meningitis just hours after ‘being sent away from hospital with tonsillitis’

A grieving father has told of how his four-year-old daughter died from meningitis just hours after being sent away from hospital with 'tonsillitis'.

Gracie Foster was waiting to undergo a tonsillectomy at Chesterfield Royal Hospital in Calow, Derbyshire, when she started being sick and feeling 'sleepy'.

Doctors diagnosed her with tonsillitis, before cancelling the operation and sending her home with Calpol, according to her dad, Daniel Foster.

But only hours later, Gracie was rushed to a different hospital after her body grew 'absolutely roasting' and she began struggling to speak or breathe.

It was only when she arrived at the facility that she developed the signature symptom of meningitis - an angry purple rash.

Doctors fought to save the little girl, but her heart stopped twice and she tragically passed away that night.

Daniel Foster

'Angel': The little girl passed away just hours after being sent away from hospital with 'tonsillitis'

Now, Mr Foster is sharing his daughter's heartbreaking story to raise awareness that a rash may be the last symptom to strike a child with meningitis.

The chef, who is also fundraising in Gracie's memory, told the Mirror Online: "After she was sent home, she was in and out of sleep and her temperature shot up.

"You could tell she wasn't right, but she didn't have a rash. She only started getting spots on her side when she was being stretched off by doctors."

He said his daughter was covered in spots by the time she died that night, even though 12 hours earlier, she had been 'jumping around'.

Mr Foster's sister, Nicole, added: "The operation was cancelled and Gracie was sent home, even with a temperature.

"By the afternoon, she was unresponsive. She was taken to a different hospital, but the disease had already ravaged her body."

Gracie was booked in for the tonsillectomy on the afternoon of October 21 last year after suffering from enlarged tonsils since birth.

This condition had caused her to experience difficulty swallowing large amounts of food and had slightly impeded her speech.

Daniel Foster

Family: Gracie is pictured with her father, Daniel Foster, who is fundraising in her memory

On the day of the surgery, Gracie woke up at 6am and was taken to hospital by her mother, whom she lived with in Chesterfield.

But shortly after, she started being sick and feeling tired, causing doctors to diagnose her with tonsillitis, according to her father.

At many hospitals, tonsillectomies can be cancelled if the patient is suffering from acute tonsillitis on the day of admission.

"She threw up, so they cancelled the operation," said Mr Foster, who is separated from Gracie's mum and lives in Sheffield.

"They diagnosed her with tonsillitis and said they couldn't perform. She was also getting really sleepy so they sent her home with Calpol.

"She went to her grandmother's for the day, but was in and out of sleep, only talking every now and again.

"At 7pm, I called to have a daily chat with her like we normally do.

"But she sounded half-empty, she was gurgling and groaning. She didn't have a rash.

"Her grandmother was upset and five minutes later, she rang me back and told me to get to Sheffield's Children's Hospital, which is just down the road from me."

Raymonds Press Agency

Hospital: The youngster was scheduled to undergo a tonsillectomy at Chesterfield Royal Hospital in Derbyshire

Mr Foster ran to the hospital in Western Bank and met the pair in the car park, where he lifted Gracie out of her grandmother's vehicle.

He said he was horrified to discover she was 'roasting hot' and struggling to breathe.

"I'd never felt her so hot in my life," he told the Mirror Online.

"We got her inside and one doctor took a look at her. Within minutes, they had her on a table and were stretchering her off.

"There could barely get people around the bed, there were so many people working on her.

"She was just starting to get spots on her side. But this ended up being a full body rash."

A short while later, doctors had managed to stabilise Gracie in intensive care and the little girl's worried mother had arrived at the hospital.

But at around 10.15pm, Gracie's heart stopped.

"She crashed," Mr Foster said. "They got her heart going, but within a minute, she crashed again and doctors told us, 'We have to stop."

Daniel Foster

Playing: Gracie was diagnosed with acute tonsillitis after she started being sick and feeling tired.

He added that the medics had provided his daughter with excellent care, but that the disease had struck without warning.

The youngster passed away from Waterhouse–Friderichsen syndrome - the most severe form of meningococcal septicemia which results in adrenal gland failure.

Her death came just five days before Mr Foster's 35th birthday.

Now, the father is taking on the Yorkshire Three Peaks challenge in a bid to raise money for Meningitis Now in memory of Grace.

The challenge sees competitors attempt to conquer the summits of Whernside, Ingleborough and Pen-y-ghent mountains.

"It's not been a nice time and I just feel like I need to do something positive," Mr Foster told the Mirror Online.

"I have an overwhelming need to help other people and to try and get these kids safe and protected."

Heartbreaking: The little girl passed away from Waterhouse–Friderichsen syndrome at Sheffield Children's Hospital

He added that he is supporting a petition calling for meningitis B vaccinations to be rolled out to all children up to the age of 11 - not just those aged between two and five months old.

The petition , named 'Give the Meningitis B vaccine to ALL children, not just newborn babies', has so far notched up more than 800,000 signatures.

In Gracie's case, she had received the Meningitis C jab, but not the B vaccine, according to her dad.

"The Government doesn't think [the vaccine] is cost-effective, but it's the people meningitis affects... Even the children who live can suffer long-term health issues," Mr Foster said.

"It's never going to stop for these families."

Gracie's family has set up a dedicated website to detail their fundraising efforts and pay tribute to their 'angel'.

A post on the site reads: "She is much loved and will always be remembered by all her family and friends. She was an angel taken away too soon and is deeply missed."

An inquest will shortly take place into the little girl's death.

To donate to Meningitis Now in memory of Gracie, click here .

Mirror Online has contacted Chesterfield Royal Hospital for comment.

SOURCE: Daily Mirror UK

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