When little Nancy Shave developed a rash on her face, her mother thought it was just her eczema.
But five days later, devastated Melissa Shave, 32, was told to say goodbye to her little girl, who was actually sick with Strep A when she was just 20 months old.
Melissa, an NHS mental health nurse and mother of two, said: “She has eczema on her face, so looking back I don’t think I saw it as I should have.
“I knew about Strep A, but it’s one of those things you don’t think will happen.
“It was a terrible 48 hours of non-stop crying – we were completely shocked.
“We thought we were going to lose her.”
Nancy, left, born in June 2021, was unwell for about two weeks before getting progressively worseday last year.
Melissa, from Madeley, Newcastle under Lyme, said: “She was slumped on her stomach and her stomach was sucking in as she breathed.”
Melissa drove the boy to the hospital and refused to wait for an ambulance.
She says: “I remember thinking, ‘Don’t stop breathing’.”
On New Year’s Eve, Nancy found herself in dire straits and infected with several insects – but it was Strep A that threatened her life.
Melissa says: “She wasn’t getting enough oxygen and was having seizures.”
Nancy, upstairs in the hospital, received a total of eight chest tubes and was placed on a ventilator, which “tore a hole in one of her lungs.”
With “not much hope” left, doctors used an ECMO machine – a device that acts as an external lung and is used in patients with severe respiratory failure – and Nancy stayed in the hospital for two months.
Melissa, who is married to Lawrence, said: “We were told she could die. Luckily she made it.
“She remained quite weak. She takes long-term antibiotics [and] has scars on her lungs.
“But we are hoping for a full recovery since she is still so young.”
Symptoms of a Strep A infection
Strep A is a common type of bacteria and most infections caused by it are mild and can be easily treated with antibiotics.
However, some infections can become more serious.
The most common symptoms of a Strep A infection include:
- Flu-like symptoms such as high fever, swollen glands, or an aching body
- Sore throat (strep throat or tonsillitis)
- a rash that feels rough, like sandpaper (scarlet fever)
- Scabs and sores (impetigo)
- Pain and swelling (cellulitis)
- severe muscle pain
- Nausea and vomiting
The NHS says that if you think your child is seriously ill, you should trust your instincts – you know better than anyone what your child is normally like, and therefore know when something is very wrong.
You should call 999 or go to A&E if:
- Your child has difficulty breathing – he may make grunting noises or you may notice his stomach sucking under his ribs
- There are pauses when your child breathes
- Your child’s skin, tongue or lips are blue or gray – if their skin is black or brown this may be easier to see on the palms of their hands or soles of their feet
- Your child is limp and will not wake up or stay awake