Pinprick spots on baby’s elbow turn out to be symptom of life-threatening disease

Charlotte Shaughnessy, from Swansea , has told how she found pinpricks and bruising on 10-month-old baby Isla and when she took her to hospital she was shocked to find that they were symptoms of leukaemia

10-month old baby Isla had bruising on her arms
10-month old Isla had bruising on her arms

A mum has told how she found pinpricks and bruising on her 10-month old baby’s elbow before finding out they were symptoms of leukaemia.

Charlotte Shaughnessy, from Llansamlet, Swansea, discovered the dark spots spreading across Isla’s body were the result of life-threateningly low platelet levels caused by the cancer.

In the six months since, Isla has spent her first birthday in hospital and gone through three rounds of chemotherapy but while she faces further treatment ahead, doctors have told the family that the outlook is positive, reported WalesOnline.

“Despite everything that gets thrown at Isla and what her little body is going through she is always the happiest little girl with the biggest smile on her face,” said Charlotte.

The family want to raise awareness of the bruising which can be a crucial warning sign.

Isla is an inspiration to her parents Rich Jenkins and Charlotte Shaughnessy, and her brother Cody


Emma-Jean Photography)

Isla and her brother Cody


Charlotte Shaughnessy)

Charlotte, 28, told WalesOnline it was in late June that she noticed Isla was not acting like her normal self.

“She was very clingy, irritable, fatigued, off her food and milk – common signs that you could relate to her teething,” she said.

“A few days later random bruising started appearing as well as little pinprick spots. It was in places you wouldn’t expect like a patch on her elbow area and creeping up her spine.”

Charlotte went to work as normal at retailer B&M and her partner Rich Jenkins texted her that evening to say he had bathed Isla but noticed the bruising was worse.

“I finished work, got home around 8.45pm, went up to check Isla and to kiss her goodnight as normal,” said Charlotte. “As soon as I could see the bruising had got worse my mother’s instinct kicked in and I just knew something was wrong with our little girl.

Isla has been having treatment over the past month and doctors are positive about her condition


Charlotte Shaughnessy)

Isla’s treatment will have to continue over the next couple of years


Charlotte Shaughnessy)

“I rang 111, they assessed Isla over the phone and told me to take her straight to Morriston Hospital. Within hours the hospital hit me with the dreaded news no-one could have prepared me for: ‘We are testing for leukaemia.’

“That split second my whole world crushed. I can just remember screaming and collapsing to the floor. How could this be happening to our 10-month-old baby girl? She had never been ill before.”

Charlotte had to break the news to Rich who was at home looking after their other child, six-year-old Cody.

“I honestly could not believe what I was about to tell him,” she said. “I could not get the words out and the doctors had to take over the call.

“The following morning Isla needed a platelet transfusion before being transferred to Noah’s Ark Children’s Hospital in Cardiff for further testing over the weekend.

“On the Monday we were hit with the worst news imaginable, words that will haunt us for the rest of our lives: ‘It’s confirmed your daughter has been diagnosed with infant acute lymphoblastic leukaemia.'”

Charlotte can remember asking doctors only one question: “Is our baby girl going to die?”

But fortunately Isla’s condition was not terminal.

She said the following six months as a “whirlwind” of chemotherapy, surgery, scans, and general anaesthetic as well as lumbar puncture needles inserted between the bones of Isla’s spine.

Isla spent her first birthday in hospital after picking up a blood infection but fortunately responded well to antibiotics.

She is due to start her fourth round of intensive chemotherapy next month.

“She will be undergoing treatment for two and half years but it won’t always be intense like this. She will have chemotherapy infusions but they will be spread out a lot more,” said Charlotte.

“We still have not got our heads around it. I don’t think we ever will. How can your child go from never being ill to having leukaemia? You never think it will happen to your family.

“If there is any advice I could give it would be that you know when your child is not right. Seek medical help and do not get fobbed off.

“I am glad we acted on it as quickly as we did and the professionals listened and acted fast. They said the key is pick up the threat as soon as possible. I dread to think what would have happened if it had been left any longer.”

Family friend Nicola started a GoFundMe page which has raised £660 to support the family who have had to make regular trips back and forth from Swansea to Cardiff for Isla’s treatment.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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