A mother whose 13-year-old daughter died on New Year’s Day hopes her story will help other parents learn about spotting the signs of meningitis and septicaemia.
Maisie Dicks, from Merthyr Tydfil, died three days after telling her mother Sharon Stokes she was feeling unwell.
“I thought it was just a bug. If she had had a temperature or breathing difficulties, I might have thought differently,” Ms Stokes said.
“By the time I knew, it was too late.”
When Maisie woke up on 30 December, Ms Stokes knew that something was wrong and immediately called an ambulance.
“Her eyes looked grey and strange and I saw a rash, so I called the ambulance,” said Ms Stokes.
“Her arms went black within an hour. It was so rapid, it was unbelievable.
“She had meningitis but it was septicaemia at that point. By the time I knew, it was too late. I couldn’t have done anything else.”
Meningitis is rare but can strike fast.
Common signs and symptoms include fever, vomiting, drowsiness, confusion, severe muscle pain, severe headache, stiff neck and a dislike of bright lights.
Suffers can also have convulsions or seizures, pale or blotchy skin, and spots or a rash.
In Maisie’s case, the meningitis had developed into septicaemia, a serious infection in the bloodstream.
Maisie was immediately put into an induced coma and stabilised when she arrived at the hospital.
“The whole time she was in hospital, she was stable. Even when I came home the night she died, she was stable,” said Ms Stokes.
“I honestly did not believe it would go this way. I thought she was very sick but not that she would die.”
On 1 January at 22:00 GMT, Maisie died at Noah’s Ark Children’s Hospital in Cardiff surrounded by her family.
“I’m numb,” Ms Stokes said. “It still hasn’t hit me. Everything she had for Christmas is still in the house.
“Her father is terrible. They did everything together.
“She was such a loving, caring person and so grateful.
“Even when we were in hospital, she was thanking me for looking after her and telling me she appreciated it.
“She would do anything for anybody and wanted to help everybody. She was just a really happy child.
“She wanted to go into the army to fight for her country when she grew up.”
Ms Stokes said the community has rallied behind her family and will be supporting them at the funeral next week.
“It’s so wonderful to see how everyone has reacted, and we are so grateful,” she said.
“What I want from this story is for people to be aware of meningitis and especially septicaemia. That’s what kills you. I don’t want another family to have to go through this.”