These incredible pictures show little Erica Scoffings' battle with meningitis, after the healthy three-year-old was struck down by the deadly bug, leaving her three hours from death.
The little girl has amazed doctors with her recovery, and her determination to walk again, and now Erica's mum Michelle, 34, from Derbyshire, has released photos of her toddler's story in a bid to raise awareness of the symptoms of bacterial meningitis and septicaemia.
The family's ordeal started when Michelle noticed Erica had a slight temperature when she put her to bed at 7.30pm. By midnight the little girl was awake and asking for drink, and Michelle noticed she had purple blotches all over her body, and a soaring temperature.
Recognising the symptoms, Michelle and her husband Michael, 25, drove her straight to hospital. Doctors diagnosed meningococcal septicaemia and said Erica was just three hours from death.
Both of Erica's legs went black and she was left clinging to life in intensive care with bandaged limbs. Amazingly she pulled through and has now made an almost full recovery after months of hospital treatment.
"They said it would take at least three years for her to learn to walk again - but she's shocked everyone and is toddling about after just a few weeks," says Michelle. "It happened so quickly, we didn't have time to think. I was terrified as there was nothing I could do. Every time someone touched her she screamed.
We expected her to just go onto a drip but we didn't expect her to go into intensive care. It was the septicaemia which made it so much worse. There were so many doctors and medical staff in the room at the hospital. I was in shock but surrounded by my family.
"Erica was screaming and I felt helpless. I just had to sit there and watch and as a parent that is the worst thing that can happen."
Recalling the night Erica fell ill, Michelle says: "Erica said she couldn't move. I took the quilt off her and saw the purple marks. Me and my husband Michael did the glass test and then rushed to hospital. Not ringing and waiting for an ambulance was the best thing we could have done. You have to get to the hospital quickly and getting there in ten minutes made a difference."
An ambulance then raced Erica from Chesterfield Royal Hospital to Sheffield Children's Hospital later that night, and she was put into intensive care, where she battled for her life.
Her legs went black as the septicaemia ate away at her flesh, exposing her bone. Erica was later transferred to a specialist burns unit as the effect on her limbs was similar to severe burns, and she underwent skin grafts.
Erica spent two weeks in hospital and has since returned three times for skin graft operations. Now, less than eight months after being struck down by the illness, Erica has amazed doctors by walking again and she is due to start nursery next month.
"The NHS has been fantastic. They told us everything that was happening," says mum of eight Michelle. "Erica is so bubbly and intelligent. She kept saying 'one day I will walk again mummy' and we stayed really positive throughout the whole situation. She understands that she has been poorly but she has her appetite back now. She is a bit unsteady on her feet and will need splints to walk properly."
Click on our gallery below to see Michelle's photo diary of Erica's battle and recovery.
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