Boy’s tummy ache turns out to be deadly condition as mum warns of ‘silent killer’

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A devastated mum has revealed how her son’s sore tummy turned out to be the ‘ silent killer ‘, sepsis.

Katy Graham, 37, has opened up about the harrowing life or death expereince her youngest son, Shay, went through after being rushed to hospital.

The mum-of-two and her husband Kev recalled the moment they knew ‘something wasn’t right’ when their little boy became limp and lethargic, and his eyes began to roll towards the back of his head.

Five-year-old Shay was born with cerebral palsy, and despite spending a lot of time in hospital throughout the early stages of his life, the youngster recently had a tragic trip to the emergency – completely unrelated to his condition.

Speaking about how the five-year-old defied the odds by learning to walk and talk, and becoming almost fully able bodied, Katy said: “Shay my youngest son has cerebral palsy so we have been in and out of the Sick Kids hospital all his life.

“From birth doctors said there will be things he is not able to do such as run, jump and walk but he is a fighter and he has defied them all. Apart from weakness in one arm you can’t tell about Shay’s condition he walks and runs about and he is almost able bodied.”

After suffering from a bowel infection, in the space of an afternoon the five-year-old developed sepsis. His parents say he became unresponsive and critical within hours of getting the life threatening infection.

Acting on their parental instincts, Kevin and Katy saved their sons’ life and rushed him to the hospital, with Katy saying: “It was surreal to be there for something so unrelated to his condition. It came from a bowel infection, that afternoon he had a sore tummy and diarrhoea but by tea time he was lethargic and I thought his eyes were rolling to the back of his head. We decide within ten seconds something wasn’t right and sped to the hospital.

“In the car he was barely conscious and talking and just looked really limp and weak. When we arrived at the Sick Kids he was taken straight out of my arms and onto a bed where they pumped lots of fluids into him.”

She continued to say: “At midnight he went into septic shock, this is when doctors said it was touch and go. He needed an operation but they didn’t know if his heart could handle going under the anaesthetic and it took two hours to decide.”

Recalling the horror and worry the parents ensued whilst waiting in the hospital lobby, she said: “While we were waiting for news we were in a room thinking positive thoughts, praying, we went down to the chapel to pray and paced around the room.

“I did about 40,000 steps that day. Shay was put on a ventilator, and pumped up with drugs from all different tubes. We didn’t know if he would make it through it was the worst feeling ever.”

The five-year-old was then kept in hospital for 22 days, with the parents being offered a room at the Ronald McDonald House so they could stay with Shay.

The 37-year-old mum says she was so thankful for being given the opportunity to be right by her son’s side, adding: “I can’t thank them enough in such an awful situation there is almost nothing you can do to help but they managed to help us.

“The room had a phone that we could use to call Shay’s room in the ICU so every two hours we would call for an update and the nurse would reassure us he was fine. The ICU is totally different to a normal ward, there is something in the room 24/7 and there needs to be space around the bed in case he needs any emergency care.”

Within the 22 days little Shay was in hospital, he spent three on a ventilator. To his parents relief, he got stronger and stronger by the day, eventually making a full recovery.

Katy said: “He was wired up to tubes and on a ventilator for three days after that every day he was getting stronger and stronger. He done the impossible and has completely bounced back, because he is five years old as well he wasn’t completely aware about how ill he was which is good.

“As soon as he was stronger even when he was still wired up to a feeding tube he was up and walking all around the hospital and just wanted to play.”

The mum-of-two also praised the staff at the Edinburgh Sick Kids and Ronald McDonald House for the care and support through the terrifying ordeal, adding: “We knew we wanted to fundraise for Ronald McDonald House when we left the hospital but we needed some time to recover after nearly losing Shay it was really traumatic there was a window of two hours where neither of us knew if he would make it or not and it’s the worst moment I have ever had as a parent.

“On Fathers Day we were in the hospital and they had a sign up saying to go to reception where Kev was given a little Fathers Day gift and card. They think of everything I sing praise their praises enough.”

September marks Sepsis Awareness Month in the UK, which aims to raise awareness of the symptoms of the deadly silent killer.

Shay’s whole family will be taking part in the Kilt Walk in Edinburgh on September 18 to raise money in aid of Ronald McDonald House Charities Edinburgh who – as an independent charity -provide home from home accommodation for families with Children being treated at The Royal Hospital for Sick Children.

What is sepsis?
Sepsis is the body’s life-threatening reaction to an infection, and can be very difficult to diagnose.

When it strikes, the immune system overreacts and starts attacking not just the infection, but everything else around it including the body’s own tissues and organs.

While is life-threatening, is the number one cause of preventable death in the world, with the main symptoms being:

feeling dizzy or faint
a change in mental state – like confusion or disorientation
diarrhoea
nausea and vomiting
slurred speech
severe muscle pain
severe breathlessness
less urine production than normal – for example, not urinating for a day
If you think you or someone you look after has symptoms of sepsis, call 999 or go to A&E.