Tot left just hours from death loses fingers and toes after developing rash

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A toddler who developed a horror rash is set to lose his fingertips and toes – but doctors say his illness could have been fatal if it wasn’t for his mum’s gut instinct and quick-thinking.

Zoe Walne, 37, says her son Teddie, 17 months, was his “normal energetic and mischievous” self the day before he woke up with a mystery red mark on his head, the Mirror reports.

Later, the mum-of-four left her partner Duncan Stewart, 39, at home in Burnley, Lancashire, and headed out to meet her mum for an Easter Sunday walk.

However, by the time she arrived, the red blotches had spread to Teddie’s tummy.

After calling 111, the stay at home mum was advised to keep an eye on it and wait for a follow-up call two hours later, but within minutes the blotches had begun to turn purple, more like “bruises.”

Zoe told The Mirror: “When he woke up he had a bit of an unusual rash, but it went downhill fast from there.

“As I was getting him dressed I noticed the tiniest little pink mark on his forehead and thought it was strange.

“I thought ‘I’ll ask my mum what she thinks it is’, but by the time I got to my mum’s he had the same little marking on his stomach.

“I said ‘I’m just going to ring 111 because I’m not sure what they are’.



Teddie's rash had started as a blotch on his forehead, but soon spread rapidly.
Teddie’s rash had started as a blotch on his forehead, but soon spread rapidly.



Teddie's rash quickly became life-threatening.
Teddie’s rash quickly became life-threatening.

“The woman on the phone told me to keep an eye on them and said that she would get a doctor to ring me back in two hours.

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“But within about 45 minutes the one near his neck looked like a bit of a bruise so I thought ‘I’m not waiting’.

“I rung back up and described it again and she said I’m going to ring you an ambulance.”

Within minutes paramedics arrived and told Zoe they suspected Teddie had the “dreaded” meningitis.

Meningitis is an infection of the protective membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord (meninges) and can cause life-threatening poisoning of the blood known as septicaemia.

Paramedics gave him antibiotics and rushed Teddie to Blackburn Hospital, by which point Teddie’s rash had got even darker.

Zoe said: “It was a blur. When we got to the hospital the doctor said that is text book meningitis rash.

“They were all rushing around him doing things and they told me to call Duncan and I was starting to get scared.



Teddie's rash developed within minutes and spread across like wildfire across his entire body.
Teddie’s rash developed within minutes and spread across like wildfire across his entire body.



Doctors were forced to start treatment on Teddie before he had any pain relief.
Doctors were forced to start treatment on Teddie before he had any pain relief.

“They said it was going to be really unpleasant because they didn’t have time to wait for the pain relief to kick in and they needed to drill into his shin bones.

“He was starting to bleed from his mouth and his nose, it was just terrifying.”

Teddie was sent to Manchester Children’s Hospital by emergency transfer, where he was rushed Intensive Care and put into an induced coma.

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He stayed on life support and was administered a paralysis medicine while doctors placed him into a freezer jacket to try and cool his skyrocketing temperature.

After seven days, Teddie started showing signs of being able to breathe on his own and continued to get stronger with medication to fight the infection.

But doctors are now running tests to see if any brain functions have been affected while parts of his body were starved of proper oxygen and blood supply.

Teddie is also being cared for by a plastic surgery team who are trying to heal the huge blisters that have developed where the rash was.



Zoe says doctors told her she had saved her son's life by bringing him in when she did.
Zoe says doctors told her she had saved her son’s life by bringing him in when she did.



Dad Duncan with Teddie before he fell ill.
Dad Duncan with Teddie before he fell ill.

Medics have already confirmed that the septicaemia infection has claimed five fingertips and five toes, meaning he will need more operations on his life changing injuries.

Zoe’s brother Nathan has launched a GoFundMe page to support the family who rely on Duncan’s income as a self-employed gardener, but have now been unable to leave their youngest son’s bedside.

For now though, the couple say they are just grateful he is alive, and urged other parents to listen to their gut.

Zoe said: “I don’t think I have ever prayed as much in my life to be honest. It’s the most terrifying thing I think I have ever been through.

“He has been such a fighter through it all. I keep thanking my lucky stars that he’s here.

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“The doctors said to me ‘you need to realize you saved his life, because if you had waited for the doctor to ring you back Teddie wouldn’t be here now’.

“They said it could have been caused by someone kissing him, coughing near him, it could have been absolutely anything. They just can’t tell you and that’s the scariest thing.

“He was running round on the Friday and Saturday the same mischievous little boy eating chocolate.

“You wouldn’t have known anything was wrong if you’d have waited because that’s the advice you’ve been given by 111 but you’ve got to follow your gut, you know your child and if you don’t think you can wait, don’t wait.

“It was a matter of life and death for Teddie.”

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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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