A 13-month-old little boy almost died after a bout of chickenpox turned into a horrific and flesh-eating infection which left gaping wounds in his neck.
Charlie Cave, now 19-months-old, ended up having to fight for his life after the disease took a horrific turn and he was put into an induced coma.
The tiny tot spent a gruelling two weeks in intensive care after developing the early stages of a secondary flesh-eating infection called necrotizing fasciitis.
Necrotizing fasciitis is a serious bacterial skin infection that spreads quickly and kills the body’s soft tissue.
The infection took over his neck, causing it to go black, and his poorly body also had to fight off the life-threatening blood-poisoning disease sepsis.
After Charlie’s heart rate reached 227 beats per minute his married parents Alan and Becky from Kempston, Beds., were told to expect the worst ahead of a seven hour operation.
Father-of-one Alan, 31, spoke of the horrifying moment he heard his son was “critical” at Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) in London.
The estate agency manager said: “It was an out of body experience,
“We were told quite early on Charlie had sepsis and that it would get worse before it got better, but I don’t think they expected him to be quite as bad as he was.
“When we found out he was critical it was all a bit of a whirlwind.
“We were taken into a room at GOSH and told he needed emergency surgery to remove the swelling and black tissue at the bottom of Charlie’s chin.
“They didn’t think he would survive the surgery and we pretty much had to sign his life away and then we were just in a trance.”
Surgeons cut into the black tissue and it started to bleed meaning it wasn’t dead so they took swabs and sent them for testing – cutting the surgery down to an hour.
Charlie’s body was then covered in ice pads for the next 48 hours while he received round the clock care to try and control his high temperature.
The test results revealed Charlie had Strep A which could be treated with antibiotics but while he was on the mend his kidneys began to fail and then his lung collapsed.
Alan added: “It was touch and go for a number of times. It was pretty grim to see and we felt so helpless with Charlie just lying there.
“He didn’t look like our little boy anymore.
“Had we have spent longer getting him to the doctors I do not think he would still be with us today.”
Charlie spent 12 days in an induced coma and Alan claims his little body doubled in size due to the fluids he was being pumped full with.
The tot showed the signs of chickenpox on February 5 when he became feverish and by the following day a cluster of pox appeared on his neck.
Charlie got the secondary infection after scratching his itchy neck and the infection getting into his blood.
Just a few days later he took a turn for the worst and by February 10 he was rushed to the paediatric ward at Bedford Hospital but that evening was anaesthetised and taken to GOSH.
He ended up with centimetre deep wounds on his neck and has now been left scarred from the traumatic ordeal after being discharged from hospital on March 3.
Doctors have warned the parents Charlie will likely need to have skin grafts on his neck and he visits hospital once every two months for scar care.
He also could have possible long term hearing damage as he can’t hear low noises which doctors think is down to the sepsis.
Alan wanted to issue a warning to other parents to make sure they go to hospital as soon as they think something is just the slightest bit off with their child.
He said: “A parent knows their child and on that one morning we knew something was wrong.
“I just want to say to other parents to not take anything for granted and if you have a concern, to act on it.
“Make sure you get your child checked out immediately because it is so time sensitive.
“If we had left it any longer, I think we would be giving a different story.”
Complications from chicken pox are normally rare in healthy children.