Bucks Fizz singer Jay Aston has revealed that her teenage daughter Josie is seriously ill in hospital after being diagnosed with bacterial meningitis.
According to The Mirror, the 18-year-old was rushed to intensive care and put in an induced coma after her organs began to fail.
After almost a month of being in hospital, Josie is still in a specialist kidney unit and has been told that unfortunately she will be permanently scarred.
Singer Jay said: “It’s been absolutely devastating. We were told it was 50/50 whether she would pull through. We still don’t know when she’ll be coming home.
“I sat by her bedside night after night willing her to make it. I could not believe this was her fate, because she’s such a lovely person. She’s outgoing, kind, good-willed and full of life. It just felt so cruel.
“I’ve been doing a lot of praying. Ella she’s my world – we’re ridiculously close. I just could n’t imagine being her without her.
Josie was rushed to hospital last month after Jay, 60, spotted a rash on her daughter’s arm which she immediately recognized as meningitis.
Doctors later said that if it was not for her quick-thinking, her daughter would not have survived.
The order began on March 22 when Josie phoned her mum and said she felt unwell.
Jay drove to the family home in Kent to find her daughter shaking.
She recalled: “She’d been lying out in the sun so I thought it was maybe heatstroke. A couple of days before that she’d complained that her joints were aching, which I’d put down to growing pains.
But when Josie developed a headache, neck pain and a temperature which didn’t come down with paracetamol, Jay called 111 and an ambulance was ordered.
She said: “That was 6.45 pm, but the ambulance didn’t come. Her temperature of her reached almost 40. I started to get really worried. In the middle of the night, she said: ‘Mum, I’m not right.’ I saw red dots on her arm from her. ”
Jay instantly realized it could be meningitis as her guitarist husband-of 22 years, Dave Colquhoun, Josie’s father, contracted it 19 years earlier.
They quickly drove her daughter to the nearby Princess Royal University Hospital in Farnborough, Kent.
Within an hour Josie’s entire body was covered in the rash and the following day, when her lungs began to fail, she was taken to intensive care where she was put into an induced coma, given oxygen and treated with antibiotics.
Jay recalled: “Doctors said all her organs were failing and it was 50/50 whether she would live. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. She was only 18 and just a few days earlier she’d been 100% fit and healthy.
“She was just about to go on holiday with her best friends and start a new job in sales and marketing, which she was really looking forward to.”
Bacterial meningitis can cause life-threatening blood poisoning.
It usually occurs when bacteria enters the bloodstream and travels to the brain and spinal cord. More serious and much rarer than viral meningitis, one in 10 cases are fatal. It typically strikes suddenly and quickly worsens.
It can result in permanent damage to the brain or nerves and amputation of affected limbs is sometimes necessary.
Josie remained in a coma for five days, with Jay sleeping beside her bed in a chair.
She said: “I was willing to pull her through. I held her hand from her but one of her had lines in it and on the other the rash was weeping and blistered. It was horrible.”
After five days doctors took Josie out of the coma, but there was no improvement. Jay said: “She didn’t come round for two days. They were the two worst days of my life. There was no response. I knew it could go either way.
“But I couldn’t let myself think that I might lose her.
“Dave and I are quite religious so we both did a lot of praying. There were tears, but I wanted to hold it together for both of us – he was very upset.”
Eventually Josie opened her eyes and after a day she began to speak.
But realizing her kidneys had been damaged, doctors moved her to Kings College Hospital in south London to be treated in its specialist kidney unit.
Jay said: “The doctors and nurses have been incredible. They’re still not happy with the results of her blood tests on her, so she’s having blood transfusions and kidney dialysis. Her kidneys are recovering, but not fully working.
Josie also still has a rash on her forehead and knees and has been warned she will have permanent scars on her legs where the rash caused the skin to blister and fall off.
Her feet are swollen and bandaged where the rash is still weeping and the skin on her left hand fell off.
Jay said: “She’s had difficulties standing because of the pain in her feet and one toe was completely black. It’s quite common to lose limbs when you have meningitis so badly. We thought they might have to amputate it, but luckily, it’s coming back.
“Josie has been incredibly brave, but her spirits are low. She’s desperate to get home. There have been blood transfusions, ECGs, she’s got a big line in her neck and she’s been on and off dialysis. She’s not going to be well for months, possibly the rest of the year.”
Jay, who shot to fame when Bucks Fizz won the 1981 Eurovision Song Contest with Making Your Mind Up, still performs with two of her original bandmates, Cheryl Baker, 68, and Mike Nolan, 67, under their new name The Fizz. She is hoping to be back on stage with them later this month.
Jay has been through her own health battles, after being diagnosed with mouth cancer in 2018 and Covid in 2021, but said nothing compares to the fear of losing her daughter.
The singer had seven operations – including having part of her tongue removed – which left her cancer-free.
She explained: “I had a horrendous time in hospital. The pain was unbelievable, but this has been the worst month of my life. I’m exhausted.
“Josie is my only child and I’d swap places with her in a heartbeat.”
The Mirror reported a sharp rise in cases of meningitis B, the type Josie has, earlier this year especially among university students, after the lifting of pandemic restrictions last year.
Jay said Josie wants her story to be told in order to warn other people about the dangers of the infection, which can be spread through sneezing, coughing and kissing.
Although Josie had a meningitis vaccination as a child, she had not been vaccinated for this particular type. Jay said: “There are six or seven versions.”
Jay hopes she may be released from hospital later this week, but knows there is a long road ahead.
She added: “If she hadn’t been in my bed that night, I’d have lost her. I’m hoping she will make a full recovery, but I’m just elated that she’s alive.
“She’s a great kid; she’s lovely and funny and I’m very lucky and blessed to have her. Whatever happens next, we’ll deal with it.”
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