Baby Ritchie embracing ‘life over limb’ after battling sepsis and Strep A | News

Baby Ritchie embracing ‘life over limb’ after battling sepsis and Strep A

 ritchieMum Libby and Dad George’s world turned upside down overnight in March last year when their son Ritchie fell seriously ill overnight.  

Libby, a Secondary School teacher from Coventry, said: Ritchie, who was 11 months old at the time, had a sick bug over the weekend, and he seemed to have getting better by Monday. However, on Tuesday he fell ill again. He just wasn't himself; he was really unsettled and lethargic and his breathing had changed.  

Libby phoned NHS 111, who sent an ambulance to take Ritchie to the Emergency Department at University Hospital, Coventry.  

Libby said: We got there in the middle of the night and were admitted to a ward at 5:30am in the morning. At this point none of us had slept and Ritchie was really unsettled.  

The doctors sent Ritchie for an X-ray, where one of his lungs showed as completely white, so he was quickly moved to a high-dependency unit , where he was intubated and provided with vital access lines and a chest drain.  

Libby said: Within 24 hours, Ritchie was in intensive care. We didn't expect Ritchie to be so seriously ill, it was just the most awful time. O v er the next few hours he declined rapidly and had two cardiac arrests.  

Doctors managed to stabilise Ritchie, who was then moved to our Children's Hospital so he could be treated by specialists on our Paediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU).  

Libby explained: Once we got to PICU, I couldn't believe it. I have never seen anything like it. It was a scary environment to walk into with so many machines and staff, but at no point did they make us feel like they were scared too. They were so calm and collected and we knew were in the best possible hands.   

We found out later that staff had actually stayed behind after their night shift to look after Ritchie as soon as he arrived.  

Ritchie was still in critical condition when he arrived on PICU and experienced a third cardiac arrest .  

Libby added: We saw them do CPR on Ritchie and it was so scary. We just didnt know what was going to happen.  

 ritchie in PICU Doctors stabilised Ritchie, who was diagnosed with Group A Streptococcus, also known as Strep A, and Adenovirus , which resulted in Ritchie developing sepsis . As a result of the very aggressive treatment needed to save Ritchie’s life, he had poor profusion in his left arm and considerable debridement on his left leg.  

Libby explained: It had started to sink in now just how seriously ill Ritchie was. You can see how much his illness had affected his limbs and body. Over the next few days, his arm turned completely black due to blood clots.  

Doctors made the decision to amputate Ritchie's arm to save the rest of his body.  

Libby said: It was upsetting, but we were just embracing life over limb . We just wanted our little boy to be okay. We were worried that they would have to amputate Ritchie's leg as well. We were optimistic, but we didn't know what the outcome would be.  

Thankfully, Ritchie's leg was saved, and he responded well to treatment. After two weeks in intensive care, he was moved to our Burns Unit.  

Libby explained: Everyone there was brilliant, we loved them all When we were there, we also sat down with a Neurologist who talked us through Ritchie's condition following his illnesses.  

While in hospital, Ritchie had had three cardiac arrests and two seizures, which had caused brain damage. This meant that Ritchie had a possible cerebral palsy diagnosis. His brain damage impacts his balance and coordination, fine motor skills, learning and cognition and vision.  

Libby said: It was all very overwhelming. We just didn't know what child we were going to come home with. He was like a newborn all over again, he had forgotten how to do everything.  

 ritchie celebrating birthday in hospital He received physio at the hospital, and we began to see glimpses of the Ritchie we had before.  

After another six weeks in hospital, Ritchie was ready to go home with support from our Neurology department.   

Ritchie returns to the hospital regularly for physio, speech and language, and occupational therapy.  

Libby said: It was absolutely life-changing for us. It was really daunting coming home after so long in the hospital; it felt like the Children's Hospital was our home, so it was many mixed emotions. But thanks to the support from the hospital, Ritchie has come on leaps and bounds and is thriving at home.  

He is moving around so much better and he has surprised us all with how well he is doing and how happy he is after such a traumatic experience.  

  There are just no words to describe how grateful we are to the teams. They gave us a second chance. When we were in hospital, we felt so safe there. All the nurses were so lovely and looked after us all so well.   

They were our family away from home. We are just so grateful. It's just an incredible place with incredible people.  

Libby and George will be swimming a mile every day for the 5 3 days that Ritchie was cared for at the hospital, to raise money for our Children’s Hospital Charity. You can visit their Go Fund Me page here.

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