PARENTS

Mum And Baby Both Survive Meningitis

31/01/2012 19:50 | Updated 22 May 2015
Holly Matthews and daughter Brooke who both survived meningitisWorld Wide Features

This is the mum and baby who have both survived the killer brain bug, meningitis.

Waterloo Road and Byker Grove actress Holly Matthews was stunned when her baby daughter Brooke was diagnosed with the deadly disease just eight weeks ago.

It was like history repeating itself as the new mum had already beaten the disease herself at the age of seven.

She could only watch hopelessly as her tiny daughter fought for life, just as she had done years earlier.

But against all the odds, little Brooke has survived and has now returned home with Holly and partner, Ross Blair.

Mum and baby both survive meningitisWorld Wide Features

'We are both survivors. I can't believe that we have both survived meningitis like this,' says Holly.

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When she was diagnosed it was like history was repeating itself all over again. I could only pray that she would pull through like I did. It was terrible watching her fight for life and not being able to do anything to help her. I just had to hope that she would be as strong as I was.

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Holly was just seven years old when she started feeling unwell. She complained to her mother, Clare that her head hurt and the light hurt her eyes.

She was taken to the Royal Victoria Infirmary where doctors diagnosed her with meningitis.

'Mum was really worried about me as the doctors said that meningitis can cause brain damage, deafness and blindness,' explains Holly.

'Luckily they managed to catch it in time and after two weeks in hospital, I had recovered enough to be allowed home. Tests showed that I luckily hadn't suffered any lasting damage and after another two months I had made a full recovery.'

Holly was thrilled when she gave birth to her daughter Brooke in March this year, but when her daughter was just 12 weeks old she developed a high temperature, and Holly started to worry:

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I was really worried about Brooke, but at first it never crossed my mind that it could be meningitis too. I never thought that she would be unlucky enough to have it too. She had had her immunisation jabs several days beforehand so I thought it was just a reaction to them.

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But Brooke remained unwell so Holly took her to Walsgrave Hospital in Coventry where doctors carried out tests.

Mum and baby both survive meningitisWorld Wide Features

It was then that they broke the devastating news that her Brooke was suffering from meningitis too.

'I just couldn't believe what I was hearing. I never imagined it would be anything like meningitis,' says Holly.

'My mum was with me and she was really worried too. Brooke had been born five weeks premature weighing just 4Ibs, so she was only 7Ibs at 12 weeks old. It was like a newborn baby fighting for her life.

'It brought it all back for my mum, to see Brooke fighting for her life in hospital. It was like history repeating itself.'

Mum and baby both survive meningitisWorld Wide Features

For 24 hours it was touch and go for tiny Brooke. Doctors battled to get her temperature down but it remained dangerously high.

'At one point they told me there was nothing more they could do. All I could do was pray that she would be as strong as I had been,' says Holly.

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As she lay there fighting so hard, all I could think of was that if she pulled through would she be blind, deaf or brain damaged. It was terrifying.

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Luckily the following day Brooke turned a corner in her fight for survival and, to Holly and Ross' relief, her condition started to improve:

'When the doctors told me the news I just burst into tears. It was such an emotional moment. We were just so relieved.'

Mum and baby both survive meningitisWorld Wide Features

After two weeks in hospital she was finally allowed home. She has now made a complete recovery, and, like her mum, has been given the all clear from any lasting damage.

Holly is now fundraising for Meningitis UK and says little Brooke seems to have recovered well:

'Luckily Brooke has been shown to be all clear from any brain damage and her sight and hearing hasn't been affected. She is reaching all her developmental milestones, although she does have to go back to the hospital for a check up every few months.

'I asked the doctor whether there was any connection between our meningitis cases, but he said it was complete coincidence. We had both just been very unlucky. Thankfully Brooke pulled through, just like I did. And when she's old enough to understand I'll tell her how we both beat meningitis.'

For more information visit www.meningitisuk.org

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