A mum from Bury who feared she would never see her baby daughter alive again is hoping to have her home for Christmas just weeks after she was diagnosed with meningitis for a second time.
Little Norah James, who was born prematurely at Royal Bolton hospital in July aged just 27 weeks, is currently in Royal Manchester Children’s hospital fighting the disease. Her start in life had already been difficult, after bleeds on her brain following birth resulted in hydrocephalus requiring a shunt.
Hydrocephalus is a build of fluid on the brain. A shunt is a thin tube implanted into the brain that drains away excess fluid.
Mum Lisa James explained that the problems had really started three days before Norah was due to be discharged from the Newborn Intensive Care Unit (NICU) in Bolton, where she had been since birth.
“In September, three days before she was due to finally be discharged from NICU, her shunt site started to leak,” said Lisa.
“She was transferred to Royal Manchester Children’s hospital and was booked to have surgery for a new shunt 4 days later. But the day before her surgery, she became unwell and started showing signs of infection.
“Tests were done on the fluid in her brain, and the results showed she had staphylococcal meningitis.”
Lisa said Norah fought the infection for more than a month until she was finally given the all-clear. She was eventually discharged from hospital after nearly 15 weeks in hospital.
“But three weeks later, Norah suddenly became very sleepy, off her feeds, and her eyes were rapidly flickering side to side,” added Lisa.
“She was taken to hospital, where tests showed she had E.coli meningitis and sepsis.
“She was rushed through for an MRI scan and the doctors told us she was extremely poorly and needed to be taken straight through to theatre to remove her shunt. But because she was septic, giving her general anaesthetic was very high risk.
“I kissed her goodbye and handed her over at the door and she was taken straight through to theatre. I had no idea if I’d ever see my baby alive again.”
Norah has now been in hospital fighting the potentially deadly disease for six weeks – although Lisa said they were hoping to get her new shunt fitted in time for her to come home for Christmas.
“At only five months old, Norah has fought meningitis twice!” she added.
“There’s no stopping this little girl now - nothing can get in her way!”
Dr Tom Nutt, CEO of the UK’s leading meningitis charity Meningitis Now, said he hoped Norah would be home soon.
“It’s very rare for a baby of this age to already have had to fight meningitis twice in such a short period of time,” he said.
“It sounds like the family have been through a very difficult few months – but it’s great to hear Norah is on the mend and hopefully will be home for Christmas.
“Meningitis is a terrible disease that can strike so fast, I’d really recommend everyone learns all the signs and symptoms – whatever age you are.”