Four-Year-Old Is Blind And Has Motor-Speech Problems
The parents of a girl from Wakefield are speaking out on the dangers of sepsis as their daughter continues rehabilitation after sustaining a brain injury due to a delay in treating the condition.
Sophia Holden lives with asplenia, meaning she has no spleen and is at high risk of infection. In October 2018, she became unwell with vomiting and a high temperature. Her parents took her to Pinderfields Hospital where they waited for a diagnosis for more than an hour.
Sophia collapsed, and was intubated and diagnosed with sepsis. Intravenous antibiotics were administered via a central line.
Following her collapse, it was discovered Sophia had sustained brain damage due to a lack of oxygen. A range of skills were also affected, including her speech and mobility, and she suffered a cortical visual injury. She also suffered injury from the siting of the central line which became dislodged and required treatment including plastic surgery.
Four-year-old Sophia is now registered blind and suffers from motor-speech problems. After she was diagnosed, her parents Laura and Heather instructed specialist lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to investigate the care their daughter received and help them access treatment and therapies they need to help Sophia.
Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs Pinderfields Hospital, admitted that had treatment for sepsis started sooner – within an hour of her arriving in hospital - Sophia would have avoided her injuries. She would also not have needed a central line which resulted in further injury requiring surgery.
To mark World Sepsis Day on 13 September, her parents are joining with their legal team to raise awareness of the symptoms of sepsis, and how important early diagnosis is.
Expert Opinion“The past two years have been incredibly difficult for Sophia’s family, having to go through the trauma of sepsis and the lasting impact it has had on their lives.
Through our work, we sadly often see how quickly sepsis can have life changing impacts, and how early detection and treatment are key to beating it and preventing any after-effects.
While nothing will change what has happened to Sophia, we welcome the Trust’s admission and will continue to support Sophia’s family in accessing the specialist care and support they require to help her live life as best she can.
World Sepsis Day is the perfect opportunity to urge people to be aware of what to look out for and what to do when it comes to the condition.”
Rachelle Mahapatra - Partner
Sophia was diagnosed with asplenia in February 2018 at the age of two, which she takes daily antibiotics for.
Eight months later, on 15 October, she began vomiting and had a high temperature. When her symptoms failed to improve, Laura and Heather called 111 and were advised to take her to hospital. They arrived at Pinderfields just before 4am on 16 October.
By 5am, Sophia was lethargic and sleepy, and her skin was mottled. Shortly afterwards, her heart rate slowed and she collapsed. She was intubated and diagnosed with pneumococcal sepsis. At the same time, she was administered antibiotics via a central line.
Sophia was transferred to another hospital where she underwent a scan and was diagnosed with a brain injury caused by lack of oxygen.
Almost two years on, Sophia is registered blind and her brain injury has led to speech problems resulting from neurological damage. She is also easily fatigued.
Sophia has underwent rehabilitation and has had to relearn many of the skills she lost as a result of her injuries. She has regular physiotherapy to help improve her walking. Her parents purchased a hyperbaric chamber, with the support of crowd funding, that she uses for an hour a day. The therapy is to help to try and reverse the effects of the brain injury. Her parents have also been working with an education expert who has provided specialist sensory education books. Every six weeks, she attends Blue Skies Ahead for intensive treatment.
Sophia lives with her parents Laura and Heather, both 37, who both work as PE teachers. She has an older brother, six-year-old Finlay.
Laura said: “Sophia has been through so much in such a short time, but we are so proud of how she has coped with everything.
“When Heather and I were first told of her asplenia, it was a huge shock, mainly because it was something we had never heard of before.
“After a few months we were beginning to manage it, but then we received the devastating news that Sophia had developed sepsis. To make matters worse, she went on to suffer brain damage which we later found out could have been avoided if her sepsis had been treated sooner. Given Sophia’s history with asplenia and her increased risk of infection, we would have expected this to have been top of the list.
“It all happened so quickly and has had a massive impact on our day to day lives, but Sophia has made incredible progress since her diagnosis, learning so many skills again, and we are so proud of how far she has come.
“Sophia, along with her brother Finlay, means the world to us and, while we cannot turn back the clock and change what she has gone through, we are determined to help her live her life to the best of her ability and make sure she doesn’t miss out on anything.
“We also hope that this will urge others to be aware of the symptoms of sepsis and highlight how dangerous it can if not treated early enough.”
World Sepsis Day is held on 13 September every year and provides an opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against sepsis.
For more information visit UK Sepsis Trust’s website www.sepsistrust.org
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