Boy, 11, left fighting for life with Strep A after doctors misdiagnosed it as a ‘pulled muscle’

Photos taken by Chontelle Gosling show her 11-year-old son strapped to life-saving equipment after contracting the potentially fatal bacterial infection

Douglas Whitbread
Friday 09 December 2022 13:46 GMT
What Are The Symptoms Of Strep A?

A mother claims a GP misdiagnosed her son with Covid-19 and a pulled muscle before he was left fighting for his life in hospital with deadly Strep A.

Photos taken by Chontelle Gosling, 34, show 11-year-old Sunnie strapped up to life-saving hospital equipment after he contracted the potentially fatal bacterial infection in July.

But Chontelle said when her son first got sick his doctors sent him home to recover, telling her he may have strained a muscle from coughing too much.

She said he only got the assistance he needed after she brought him to an A&E department, where medics found he had fluid “all around his lungs and his heart”.

Tragically, it was reported yesterday that child deaths from Strep A, a bacteria which is normally found in the throat, had risen to 15.

But Sunnie thankfully pulled through after spending four weeks in hospital, with his frightened mother saying: “He could have died.”

She said: “It’s awful to think of the trauma for him and realising that if doctors had just given him antibiotics before he got really ill, we wouldn’t have been in this situation.

“At hospital they were quite surprised he had managed at home for as long as he did.”

Chontelle Gosling said Sunnie had been struck down with the virus over the summer, but when she took him to her GP on June 15 and 17, they sent him home.

She said: “My main concern was that we went to the doctors twice. The first time they thought it was Covid, and the second time they thought he’d pulled a muscle.

“They said we will wait until Monday. They listened to his lungs and said there was nothing in his lungs.”

Sunnie during his stay in hospital
Sunnie during his stay in hospital (SWNS)

However, as Sunnie’s condition grew worse, she took him to Colchester Hospital’s A&E department on the morning of June 20.

And shockingly, doctors later found he had fluid all around his lungs and heart.

He was taken by ambulance to the Royal Brompton Hospital, in London, for specialist care, and Chontelle said the seriousness of the situation sank in while they were driving there.

The mother-of-four said: “We got there and there were about 11 people waiting in the room for us.

“It was straight into the PICU (intensive care), they did tests, scans and everything.

“They said there is so much fluid around his lungs and they feared he had fluid on his heart. I was in despair.”

Chontelle and Sunnie
Chontelle and Sunnie (SWNS)

Medics decided to operate on Sunnie to drain the fluid from his lungs and to determine whether the fluid had reached his heart.

The surgery was a success, but after his condition had gradually improved, he suddenly deteriorated days later and medics feared he had sepsis.

Fortunately, he responded to antibiotics and began to recover.

Sunnie spent a month in intensive care, losing much of his body weight before he was finally allowed to return home on July 16.

During his stay in hospital, he was diagnosed with invasive group A Strep infection.

Chontelle said: “It had been a bad year for us anyway, we had moved in with my grandfather to care for him, and he had just passed away before this happened.

“Thankfully our family rallied around to help us.

Sunnie has a check-up scheduled in two weeks’ time, with fluid still present in his lungs.”

Sunnie and stepfather Jake
Sunnie and stepfather Jake (SWNS)

Chontelle added: “He can’t run as fast as he could before and he missed most of the end of Year 6 at school, having spent a month in hospital.

“But we are thankful. There were times when they said ‘he’s not out of the woods yet’ when he started going downhill again.

“They told us he was a very poorly boy and that we were lucky we brought him into A&E when we did.”

Chontelle wants to issue a warning to all parents to ensure they take the symptoms seriously.

Scarlet fever is usually a mild illness, but it is highly infectious, so UKHSA is advising parents to be on the lookout for symptoms.

These include a sore throat, headache and fever with a characteristic fine, pinkish or red body rash with a sandpapery feel.

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