A four-year-old girl has suffered serious brain damage after her sepsis was untreated due to delays – which left her blind and with speech issues.
Little Sophia Holden has had to re-learn how to speak and walk after she contracted the life-threatening infection when she was just two.
The tot suffers from asplenia, which means she has no spleen and is at a high risk of infection.
Her parents Lauren and Heather, both 37, were given the shock of their lives when the tot suddenly became severely unwell in October 2018.
She was registering high fevers and was vomiting continuously before being rushed to Pinderfields Hospital in Wakefield, West Yorks.
While there, she collapsed and was intubated before doctors discovered she had contracted deadly sepsis.
She was administered antibiotics but following her collapse she sustained brain damage due to a lack of oxygen.
Her parents are now raising awareness about the importance of an early diagnosis, after doctors admitted she should have treated her sooner due to her underlying health condition.
Mum-of-two Lauren 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.”
The distraught mum said their lives have been impacted massively – but they are remaining positive as Sophia has shown “incredible progress”.
She said: “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.”
Sophia was rushed to hospital just before 4am on Oct 16.
By 5am, she was lethargic and sleepy, and her skin was mottled. Shortly afterwards, her heart rate slowed dramatically and she collapsed.
It was only then that she was intubated and diagnosed with pneumococcal sepsis – which is a deadly lung infection with a death rate of between 11–30 percent.
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 now registered blind and her brain injury has led to speech problems resulting from neurological damage.
She has had to relearn many of the skills she lost as a result of her injuries, has regular physiotherapy to improve her walking and her parents crowd funded a hyperbaric chamber she uses each day.
After she was diagnosed, her parents Laura and Heather instructed specialist lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to investigate the care their daughter received.
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 September 13, her parents are joining with their legal team to raise awareness of the symptoms of sepsis, and how important early diagnosis is.
Rachelle Mahapatra, specialist lawyer at Irwin Mitchell representing Sophia, Laura and Heather, said: “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.”
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