WARNING! THIS STORY CONTAINS SOME DISTRUBING AND EMOTIONAL IMAGES!
THE parents of a seven-year-old boy have released pictures of their son’s dying breaths as a warning to others about meningitis.
Claire and Mark Timmins’ son Mason died of the disease two weeks before Christmas in 2013 and needed a life support machine towards the end of his tragically short life.
The UK couple, aged 37 and 49, want to make sure no other parents have to suffer the loss of a child at the hands of the illness.
A petition asking the government to vaccinate all children against meningitis B has become the most-signed in history after 600,000 people put their names down.
In an interview with the Daily Mirror, the parents said: “They’re not very nice pictures, obviously. We had kept them in a box in the loft until we saw the heartbreaking photograph of Faye Burdett, the two-year-old who died on Valentine’s Day.
“So many people responded through shock from that, and so we thought if it’s going to make a difference we should use our photo as well.
“It was quite an easy decision to make. As soon as I mentioned it to my husband he said ‘yes, if it will get people to listen’.
Mason woke up vomiting in the morning and later fell asleep.
“Hopefully it will shock people into finding out more about meningitis. We want people to know just how quickly it can happen.”
Mason didn’t develop a rash but woke up vomiting one morning and fell asleep watching a children’s TV show.
He was then rushed to the doctors who said he had meningitis but by then it was too late and he died 24 hours later in the arms of his parents.
Claire continued: “I remember the moment he died every day. I can talk without crying now, but my husband can’t. He gets two or three words out, and that’s it.
“One nurse switched off the machine, the other one removed the pipes and then they put him on our lap and left us with him. We still felt his heart beating for a good 10 minutes after they switched the machine off — but it got slower and slower.
Mason’s parents spent time with him after he was taken off life support.
“We said ‘his heart’s still beating.’ But they said ‘that’s normal’.
“All the medical staff then left just before 3pm, after they took these pictures.
“There were a couple of minutes of silence. We were just kissing him and hugging him, and wondering why this was happening. Everybody gave him a hug and said goodbye, and then our family left me and Mark. We tucked him back into bed, and then the doctors came back and pronounced him dead at 3.20pm.
“It sounds silly now, but the hospital gave us a box when we left on the day he died. Inside it they’d given us a paint print of his hand and his foot, and they also took casts. They also gave us the photos the nurses had taken in his dying moments.
“For months I kept them in a box in a sideboard cupboard. For the first few months I got them out every few days, just to take a look — it was the only way I could see it was real.
“But then we put everything in a big memory box in the loft. That’s where they’ve been until now.”
Claire and Mark say they’ve only just been able to talk about what happened.
Symptoms of meningitis that may appear in combination or individually:
- High fever with cold hands and feet
- Vomiting and refusal to eat
- Agitated and not wanting to be picked up
- Drowsy, floppy and unresponsive
- Grunting or rapid breathing
- High-pitched or moaning cry
- Pale, blotchy skin and a red rash
- Tense, bulging soft spot on their head
- Stiff neck and dislike of bright lights
- Convulsions and seizures
This article originally appeared on The Sun and was reproduced with permission.