Parents share tragic image of two-year-old daughter dying of meningitis

More than 380,000 sign vaccine petition as parents share the image on social media to help raise awareness of vaccinations for older children

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The Independent Online

More than 380,000 people have signed a petition to extend meningitis vaccinations to older children after the disease caused the tragic death of a two-year-old girl.

Faye Burdett died on 14 February while being treated at Evelina London Children's Hospital, after fighting the illness for 11 days.

The parents gave Meningitis Now permission to share an image of Faye in hospital before she passed away to help raise awareness of the disease.

In a statement, Faye’s mother said: “This is a photo of Faye, two years old, who sadly lost her life to this dreadful disease. We campaign for change in her memory.”

The family’s photographs and story are being widely shared on social media, and has helped gain support for the petition which, having reached the 200,000 signature mark will now have to be debated in parliament.

The petition is calling for all children, at least up to the age of 11 to be vaccinated against the disease.

Vaccinations are currently only available on the NHS to babies aged two to five months old.

According to a statement attached to the petition: “All children are at risk from this terrible infection”.

Speaking through Meningitis Now, Faye’s mother said: 

Faye was taken to A&E with a rash on her forehead. She was then transferred by South Bank Retrieval Service to Evelina Children's Hospital, where her heart stopped in the ambulance. They revived her and spent hours working on stabilising her.

“We were given a one per cent survival chance but she proved them wrong and carried on fighting.

“After a few days she seemed to have turned a corner, but the sepsis started to affect her more and the decision of limb removal was made. The extent of removal was massive, full leg amputation and one arm and plastic surgery.

“She was getting tired, her little body consumed by meningitis and sepsis (blood poisoning). We had to make the decision, a massive operation and she may die or we let her go peacefully on her own accord.

“We decided the latter and then watched our little girl slip away. At 9pm on February 14 she finally fell asleep forever. All this in only 11 days.”

The CEO of Meningitis Now, Sue Davie said: “Although the introduction of the Men B vaccine on the childhood immunisation scheme for young babies was a momentous achievement, saving thousands of lives, there are still so many, like Faye, left unprotected.

“Moving forward, we continue to campaign to see the Men B vaccine rolled out, particularly to at risk groups to ensure a future where no one in the UK loses their life to meningitis.”

A Department of Health spokesperson said: “Our thoughts are with Faye's family at this difficult time.

“When any new immunisation programme is introduced, there has to be a date to determine eligibility - a decision based on the best independent clinical recommendation to ensure we can protect those children most at risk of MenB.

“When our nationwide MenB vaccination programme was introduced last year, England became the first country to protect our babies from this devastating disease. All children who are now aged up to 9 months should have been offered the vaccine.”

Meningitis is an infection of the protective membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord. Babies and young children under five years of age are most at risk of contracting the disease.

A full list of symptoms can be found at NHS Choices

Immediate medical help should be sought if someone is unwell and displays the symptoms of meningitis.