The devastated parents of a toddler who died of meningitis have shared their heartbreaking story to raise awareness of the cruel disease which robbed them of their “adorable” daughter.
Two-year-old Jazmin Louisa Parker died on Thursday at Royal Blackburn Hospital within seven hours of being diagnosed with meningococcal septicaemia, the meningitis B infection.
Her grieving parents, Leroy Parker and Rebecca Eatough, of Whalley Road, Clitheroe, are desperate to spread the word of how fast meningitis can take hold and hope they can save other children by sharing their story.
They said: “Jazmin was our beautiful, happy daughter who always had a smile on her face.
“She was a healthy, delightful little child who lit up our lives. She was absolutely fine and had attended Ribblesdale Nursery School the day before she died.
“Thursday was supposed to be another normal day, however, I noticed Jazmin was quieter than usual, but I didn’t think anything of it.
“As I was changing her clothes, I noticed a little rash on her right shoulder. I immediately took her to Clitheroe Health Centre. As I was getting her out of the pram, I became aware she was floppy and had developed bruising around the ankles, as well as a further rash at the top half of her body.
“After an initial medical inspection, the doctors rushed her to Royal Blackburn Hospital. Despite being in pain and suffering, Jazmin continued being her happy self and talking.
“She underwent emergency treatment and had anti-biotic fluids pumped into her, but we soon realised it was too late. The cruel disease had ravaged her body and despite doctors resuscitating her for 25 minutes, she died later that day.”
Now, Leroy and Rebecca are urging the government to vaccinate all children up to the age of 11 and increase awareness of the potentially fatal disease. Their aim is to prevent others suffering from the same fate.
“There is a lot to get your head round,” said Leroy. “It really is heart-breaking. Our lives will never be the same without our beautiful daughter, but if we can raise enough awareness through our own awful personal experience and save as many lives as possible.”
The meningitis B jab is been available on the NHS to babies born after July 1st last year as part of their routine immunisation schedule.
However, this means many older children have missed out and if parents would like their child vaccinated privately, they will have to pay.
“The government should act now to vaccinate all children who need it, no matter what the cost,” said Leroy.
The family have expressed its gratitude towards the Clitheroe community for supporting them during this horrendous time. Special thanks have been paid to the staff at Clitheroe Health Centre, especially Dr Mike Doherty.
Staff at Ribblesdale Children’s Centre have paid tribute to Jazmin, describing her as a “delightful, happy and busy girl”.
They are reassuring parents and have released this statement: “Our thoughts and sympathies go out to Jazmin’s family and friends at this very difficult time. We are all very saddened and shocked by her loss.
“We have sought advice by Public Health England because the little girl has attended some groups at the children’s centre and it has been reported as suspected meningococcal disease.
“This is infection that the germ that can cause meningitis or septicaemia. I realise that you may be concerned about this, but I have been reassured by Public Health England that when there is a single case of illness in a pupil place, other children and staff are at no greater risk of getting meningitis than the rest of the population and they do not need antibiotics or vaccination.
“If your child is well they should attend the centre as usual.”
A funeral date is yet to be arranged, but a Facebook page has been created in memory of Jazmin and to help the family with funeral costs. Anyone wishing to support this cause is asked to log onto kapipal.com/projects/jazmins-fund-raising/