JUST three weeks ago, Mia Mitchell’s life hung in the balance as deadly meningococcal disease threatened to take away her dad’s little “princess”.
Diagnosed with the emerging B-strain, her father Blake Mitchell, 28, and stepmum, Katrina Wood, 21, were told by doctors to prepare for the worst — and to pray for a miracle.
“I thought I was going to lose my baby,” Mr Mitchell told The Advertiser of the family’s terrifying ordeal.
Only hours earlier, on Sunday, July 30, the two-year-old had woken from an afternoon nap when Mr Mitchell noticed “she seemed a bit flat”.
It was a combination of his quick-thinking and “gut instinct” that miraculously helped save his daughter’s life.
“She just woke up crying and had a bit of a temperature so I gave her some Panadol and that brought it down a bit,” he said.
After her temperature failed to fall, Mr Mitchell, of Davoren Park, decided to give her a cool bath when he noticed “four or five spots on her belly”.
“It clicked in my head for some reason ‘meningococcal’,” he said.
At about 11pm, they took Mia to the Lyell McEwin Hospital where staff suspected the diagnosis and a few hours later, she was taken by ambulance to the Women’s and Children’s Hospital for treatment and antibiotics.
“If we brought her in (to hospital) an hour later they (doctors) said she might be dead or ended up with brain damage or loss of limbs,” Mr Mitchell said.
“Once they saw her they said ‘that’s meningococcal’.”
For the first 48 hours, Mia was gravely ill.
“Basically they (doctors) just said at this point, it was touch and go … they said to prepare for the worst but we’re hopeful she’s going to get better,” Mr Mitchell said.
After four days in isolation, heavily sedated in the hospital’s paediatric intensive care unit, Mia finally opened her eyes.
“I felt relieved . she was awake and started pointing at photos saying ‘that’s Mia’ and at that point, I knew there was no brain damage,” Mr Mitchell said.
Mia, her twin Laila and their big sister Imogen, 3, were immunised against the diseases’s C-strain, which is given to children aged 12 months through Australia’s National Immunisation Program.
But the B-strain vaccine is not currently offered on the taxpayer-funded program. It’s expensive and due to high demand, there is a global shortage so stocks in Australia — and the world — are intermittent.
Meningococcal rates in South Australia are at a six-year high for this time of year.
So far in 2017, there have been 23 cases of the disease and the majority were the B-strain, compared with 15 cases at the same time last year and a total of 27 cases in 2016.
Mr Mitchell urged the Federal Government to fund the vaccine and asked doctors to talk about the B-strain vaccine option more frequently.
“All my kids are vaccinated but we were never made aware that there are other meningococcal vaccines,” he said.
“If anything at all comes of this (story) and it saves one life, then it’s done its job”.
Mia has made a full recovery and is back “playing dress ups and having tea parties with her dolls”.
Mr Mitchell said he wouldn’t wish the ordeal on any parent and understands things could have ended very differently.
“You just have to act on instinct — you get that gut feeling and you’ve just got to go with it,” he said.
“Taking your kid (into hospital) for a false alarm is better than a child dying.”
SOURCE: The Advertiser