An 18-month-old girl is lucky to be alive after a mysterious infection, which the doctor thought was ‘just a cold’, left her in a coma for three days as her body threatened to ‘switch off’.
Melbourne parents Lyndal and Ben MacArthur shared the poignant story of how their daughter Hadley contracted a new deadly strain of the Invasive Group A Streptococcus virus, commonly known as Strep A, late last year.
Ms MacArthur recounted the nightmare experience in a lengthy Facebook post, expressing hope that it would “spread some awareness about what to look out for and the early warning signs of this horrible, life-threatening bacterial infection.”
She says Hadley, who had just started nursery, developed a persistent fever, which Panadol was unable to suppress on November 4 last year.
A GP assured Mrs MacArthur that despite Hadley having a very red throat, ‘she most likely had a virus’ and that the concerned parents should keep an eye on her but wait for it to pass.
Melbourne parents Lyndal and Ben MacArthur shared the poignant story of how their baby daughter Hadley contracted a new deadly strain of the invasive group A streptococcal virus, known as Strep A (pictured in hospital), late last year.
However, Ms MacArthur said that ‘it just felt different this time’ and although Hadley seemed to be her normal self for the rest of the afternoon around dinnertime, her fluid and food intake dropped significantly and she started vomiting.
The couple called the Victorian Virtual Emergency Department (VVED) – a 24-hour public telehealth service – and a pediatrician “viewed Hadley via video call and told us to call an ambulance.”
“I do believe that if Hadley had been put to bed that night, they would have found a dead baby in the morning,” VVED doctor Loren Sher told me. Channel Seven.
The family arrived at Monash Children’s Hospital just after midnight and in the early hours Hadley appeared to be getting better and was eating and drinking again.
By mid-morning, however, Hadley was experiencing severe diarrhea and had become irritable, confused, and drowsy, even as fluids were pumped into her.
“We noticed that her hands and feet became very cold and purple and her chest turned a purple mottled color after about 8-10 seconds,” Ms MacArthur said.
It was getting harder and harder for her to breathe.
Her heart couldn’t handle it and her body shut down. She was critical.
“Her little body had gone into severe septic shock from what they thought was some sort of bacterial infection in her blood.”
Lyndal MacArthur (pictured with Hadley) has written a vivid account on social media of her baby’s harrowing struggle to survive
Hadley, who had just started childcare, developed a persistent fever, which Panadol was unable to suppress on November 4 last year
What Are the Telltale Signs of Strep A?
Invasive group A streptococcal disease can be difficult to distinguish from a viral infection.
However, the signs below are the things to watch out for.
A serious bacterial infection can be detected if the symptoms listed below persist, if there are multiple symptoms, or if they are extreme in nature.
Signs to watch for in children include:
– Sunburn-like rash (scarlet fever rash, which may be subtle or bloody),
– Cold or mottled limbs
– Limb pain, not wanting to walk
– Poor nutrition
– Stomach ache
– Strep throat
With Hadley’s blood pressure plummeting and her fingers and toes rapidly discolored, it was decided to put the ailing child into a coma and intubate her in intensive care.
“What we thought was going to be a 15 minute wait ended up being more than two and a half hours,” said Ms. MacArthur.
“You could hear the machines and various alarms going off loudly in the other room and a lot of people walking around, our hearts sank to the floor. We will never forget it.
“Going back to that room was the hardest thing we’ve ever done.
“We walked into a scene no parent should ever experience, our little angel had countless tubes and wires attached to her.
“And the sound of the fan is something that will always stay with us.”
Doctors told the couple that they had nearly lost Hadley, but she had stabilized.
“It was two weeks of ups and downs, she had complication after complication,” Ms MacArthur said.
Of particular concern was Hadley’s left leg and foot, which had reduced blood flow and will require future surgery and rehabilitation.
“Our little fighter defied all odds and is here with us today,” said Mrs. MacArther.
“She’s smiling and giggling again and despite the problems with her left foot, she’s still determined to get back to her pre-illness standing and learning to walk.”
Step A is a bacteria found in the throat and skin that often causes a sore throat.
However, it can turn into a serious infection known as invasive group A streptococcal disease, or iGAS, which poisons the blood.
Mark Davies, senior lecturer in bacteriology at the University of Melbourne, said a new variant of strep A, M1UK, had recently been discovered in the UK.
The new strain, which increases the rate of scarlet fever and iGAS, has been discovered in Australia.
Hadley made it through the emergency but will need future surgery and rehabilitation on her left foot, which had limited blood flow
Warning signs of invasive group A streptococcal disease include vomiting, fever, shortness of breath, and a rapidly spreading skin infection. Pictured: Mrs. MacArthur and baby Hadley
“We need to be vigilant… regarding the identification of variants that we see entering Australia,” Professor Davies told Seven News.
Step A invasive cases in Australia have skyrocketed from 224 cases in 2021 to 1182 in 2022.
Warning signs of invasive group A streptococcal disease include vomiting, fever, shortness of breath, and a rapidly spreading skin infection.
Ms MacArthur urged other parents to be vigilant if their children display these symptoms.
“Parents are being told it’s just a virus, it can present very early on,” Ms MacArthur said.
“But the hospital staff told us that they would rather have parents present more than it was too late.
“And remember, you know your child best and you can ALWAYS advocate for them if you have any concerns.”
“We’re just so glad we trusted our gut feeling because they were right and also had professionals around us who didn’t take away our concerns.”