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'I know how close he was to not making it': Telford boy survived meningitis twice

By Lisa O'Brien | Telford | Health | Published:

He's only 12 but Luke Hickman has already battled meningitis twice.

Luke Hickman

After the relief of overcoming the disease at the age of 10 months, his life was threatened again just days after his fourth birthday.

Fortunately he survived both times, although the youngster from Telford has been left with poor eyesight, hearing loss and also has learning difficulties.

His mother, Zoe Corbett, has shared his story on World Meningitis Day, which highlights the bravery of meningitis survivors and those whose lives have been changed forever.

"To have it twice and come through is just lucky," said Zoe, 40, who lives in Trench.

"There was no connection between the first and second time at all.

"It was just a big relief he came through it – I know how close he was to not making it."

Luke Hickman with his mum Zoe Corbett

In April 2007, 10-month old-Luke was poorly with a high temperature and vomiting.

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Later in the day he was asleep and when he woke his right eye was pointing in towards his nose.

Zoe said: "I managed to get him in at the doctors who advised that he would see him again in two days to see if his eye had changed position.

"We went home but as soon as we walked in the house the doctor called.

"He said after we left he had called the Princess Royal Hospital and they said to go straight down.

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"We did, and following a lumbar puncture we were told Luke had viral Meningoencephalitis. This was more than likely passed onto him from a cold sore that I had when I kissed him."

Luke Hickman

Luke spent three weeks in hospital on anti-viral medication before he could come home.

The Hadley Learning Community pupil was left with a delay in his speech and had to wear patches to correct the turn in his eye.

His eyesight is still poor in his right eye.

In June 2010, three days after his fourth birthday, Luke became unwell again with a high temperature and vomiting.

He became 'hot and floppy' and this time had two small purple spots on his stomach.

"I did the glass test and they didn’t disappear so I immediately rushed him to the PRH again," said Zoe.

"We were taken straight through to resus and within 10 minutes he was on drips and surrounded by paediatric, heart and neurological consultants.

"Tests revealed he had bacterial meningococcal septicemia.

"At the time I didn’t realise just how poorly Luke was, but was later told that another 15 minutes getting to the hospital and Luke might not have survived or could have suffered loss of limbs."

Luke Hickman

This time, Luke was in hospital for 10 days and to make matters worse his father Richard was also in hospital after suffering a brain haemorrhage.

Zoe, who is also mother to Ivy, two, and Xara, 17, said: "It was hard. I couldn't tell his dad because of the condition he was in.

"We found out Luke had some permanent hearing loss, he struggles to manage his emotions and has some learning difficulties with reading and writing.

"Luke says he is a very unlucky person to have had it twice but lucky to have survived with only a few problems. I know it could have been so much different."

She has also thanked charity Meningitis Now for offering help and support in the family's time of need.

"I have contacted Meningitis Now on a couple of occasions to seek advice regarding the after effects of meningitis and they have always pointed me in the right direction," she said.

The charity is also backing World Meningitis Day, an initiative of the Confederation of Meningitis Organisations.

Bravery

Its chief executive Dr Tom Nutt said: “We know that life after meningitis is tough for many people and we want to use World Meningitis Day to showcase the bravery of meningitis survivors and those who have lost a loved one.

“Through our supporters telling their stories, raising awareness of the signs and symptoms and increasing vaccine knowledge, we can raise the profile of this devastating disease and help to reduce its impact for future generations.”

There are an estimated 22 cases of meningitis each day across the UK.

The disease can strike in hours, but the after-effects, including deafness, limb loss and brain damage, can last a lifetime.

Early signs of the disease can include a fever, headache, vomiting, diarrhoea, muscle pain and stomach cramps.

“On World Meningitis Day, as on every other day, we are here to help and support those who need us,” Tom added.

The charity is keen to use World Meningitis Day to promote its range of support services, including its recently-launched Rebuilding Futures Fund, which provides financial, practical and emotional support for people of all ages affected by meningitis.

Meningitis Now is also launching its first Facebook fundraiser today.

For more information about meningitis visit meningitisnow.org or contact the Meningitis Now helpline on 08088 010388.

Lisa O'Brien

By Lisa O'Brien
Senior Reporter - @lisaobrien_Star

Senior reporter based at Shropshire Star's head office in Ketley. Covering the Telford area.

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