29/06/2015 08:14 BST | Updated 29/06/2015 08:59 BST

Girl, 11, Left With Kidney Damage After Contracting E.Coli Following A School Trip To A Petting Farm

A dad has spoken about how his 11-year-old daughter was left fighting for life with kidney damage, after contracting E.coli following a school trip to a petting farm.

Megan Oldfield needed dialysis for two weeks after contracting the infection following a visit to Cruckley Animal Farm, East Yorkshire, in June 2011.

Her dad James, 34, a gas engineer, said: “Seeing my little girl fight for her life because she contracted an infection that might have been prevented was very hard to witness and something I will never forget.

“She went from perfectly healthy to being hooked up to a life saving dialysis machine in a matter of days and nothing could have prepared us for the horrific battle she would have to face.

ecoli

Megan Oldfield with her father James

Mr Oldfield said Megan had been suffering with diarrhoea and sickness before he and her mother took her to Pinderfields General Hospital in Wakefield, West Yorkshire.

He added that he was at the supermarket when he got a distressed phone call from his ex-wife Ann-Marie, who told him it was "touch and go and that we were losing her".

"Her kidneys were failing," he said.

"She said they were taking Megan to Leeds General Infirmary by ambulance.

"That was the point she had to have the blood transfusions and dialysis.

"Doctors at Pinderfields told Ann-Marie it was touch and go."

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Megan still needs regular check ups on her damaged kidneys and is vulnerable to further infections throughout her life.

“Whilst Megan has made a fantastic recovery, the fact remains that her kidneys have been damaged and she will potentially have further problems as a result in the future, including additional problems during pregnancy," said Mr Oldfield.

“We just don’t know what the future holds for her which is difficult to come to terms with. I hope that by speaking out it raises awareness about the effects of contracting E-coli infection.”

A Health Protection Agency (HPA) report into the farm the month after Megan's visit found insufficient hand washing facilities for visitors.

The owners of the attraction - which closed permanently later the same year - deny responsibility.

Megan's family have now instructed specialist solicitors Irwin Mitchell to investigate the cause of his daughter’s illness.

Amandeep Samra, a specialist illness lawyer, said: “E-coli is a very serious infection, which can have a debilitating long term impact for anyone who contracts it.

“Unfortunately Megan is now at an increased risk of developing long term kidney problems and it is expected she will show a decline in kidney function in adolescence.”

“Cruckley Animal Farm has denied liability and as such our client has been left with no other option than to issue court proceedings.”

Lawyers at the firm have received details of a Health Protection Agency (HPA) report into Cruckley Animal Farm which was commissioned following the HPA being notified of ‘six cases of E-coli with possible links to Cruckley Animal Farm between 7th and 18th July 2011’.

The Health Protection Agency report, dated July 2011 found:

· Hand wash facilities provided were deemed insufficient for the volume of visitors.

· Location of hand wash facilities also considered not to be adequate, especially in regard to the covered picnic area, which was located too far from hand wash facilities.

· As a result, it was considered unlikely that the visiting public washed their hands after interaction with animals and before eating.

· There was a lack of explicit information about the risk of contracting an infection from animals.

The HPA report stated: "Two improvement notices were issued which required (a) improved segregation of visitors from animals and increased number of hand washing facilities with hot and cold running water, (b) improved provision of information to visitors."

The report confirmed that there was strong evidence that the farm was the source of the infection as, "it was the single common link identified in all six cases".

The HPA concluded: “A lack of explicit information about the risk of infection from animals was also noticed, and this was of concern due to the lack of adequate hand washing facilities in eating areas.”

Speaking about how he felt when he found out that Megan contracted the infection, James said: "I mean I was annoyed, annoyed but the feelings of concern towards Megan outweighed that at the time.

"It was great we could actively help her while she was in hospital, keeping an eye on her fluids, it was about two week until she passed urine for the first time.

"I was mainly relieved that she made some type of recovery. I'm more angry about it now because it will effect her for the rest to her life.

"I'm angry about it and I feel they are to blame."

James said that Megan will have to be monitored to see how her condition affects her in the future.

"I think she does find it hard at times, she know it will affect her chances with children," he added.

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