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Editor's PicksHealthThe odds were 14 million-to-one but thankfully this family believed in the impossible

The odds were 14 million-to-one but thankfully this family believed in the impossible

A brave toddler has survived meningitis after contracting the same deadly strain TWICE at odds of 14 million-to-one – the same as winning the lottery.

Martha Norman, who is two and a half, was struck by the same strain of bacterial meningitis twice in just a five month period.

Collect photo supplied by the family - Martha in an induced coma in hospital. A brave toddler has survived meningitis twice after being struck down with two bouts of the deadly infection in just five months. See Masons story MNTWICE. Martha Norman had a greater chance of winning the lottery than contracting the same strain of bacterial meningitis twice. The two-and-a-half year-old pulled through despite suffering a stroke, septicaemia, surgery and a medically induced coma.  The odds of contracting meningitis twice are said to be 14 million to one -  Parents Nicola and Mitchell knew something was wrong when Martha woke up one morning in September and seemed "floppy".  When Martha continued to be drowsy and started vomiting Nicola rushed her straight to hospital. The potentially lethal 7F bacterial strain of the disease meant there was no sign of the tell-tale rash associated with its more manageable viral form. Ten per cent of  bacterial meningitis cases are fatal and around 15 per cent of people who contract the strain are left with severe physical difficulties.  Martha was diagnosed with meningitis and was immediately transferred to Addenbrooke's Hospital, a leading university teaching hospital in Cambridge. After months of antibiotics, physiotherapy and a long hospital stay the family hoped  the worst was behind them. But in an extremely rare turn of events Martha contracted a second strain of meningitis in February. Nicola said: "I recognised the signs from the first time, I called 111 and they told me to wait 24 hours but I wasn't happy with that so I took her to hospital straight away. "We caught it so early we didn't give it a chance." Doctor's confirmed Martha had contracted the disease a second time, put her on antibiotics immediately and kept her in hospital for a week.

Martha in an induced coma in hospital

She has pulled through despite suffering a stroke, septicaemia, surgery and a medically induced coma.

The youngster first fell ill last September when she woke up ‘floppy’ and drowsy.

Her parents Nicola and Mitchell rushed her to A&E at Hinchingbrooke Hospital, Cambs. where doctors diagnosed the potentially lethal 7F bacterial strain of the disease.

It has no sign of the tell-tale rash associated with the more manageable viral form.

Martha was immediately transferred to Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge where she was put into a coma to help her body fight it off but ten days later suffered a stroke.

Doctors told her parents, from Chatteris, Cambs., that she might not have survived if they had not got her to hospital so quickly.

After months of antibiotics, physiotherapy and a long hospital stay the family hoped the worst was behind them.

But in an extremely rare turn of events Martha contracted the same identical 7F strain for a second time in February.

Mum Nicola said: “I recognised the signs from the first time.

“I called 111 and they told me to wait 24 hours but I wasn’t happy with that so I took her to hospital straight away.”

“We caught it so early we didn’t give it a chance.”

Collect photo supplied by the family - Little Martha the day she went into hospital . A brave toddler has survived meningitis twice after being struck down with two bouts of the deadly infection in just five months. See Masons story MNTWICE. Martha Norman had a greater chance of winning the lottery than contracting the same strain of bacterial meningitis twice. The two-and-a-half year-old pulled through despite suffering a stroke, septicaemia, surgery and a medically induced coma.  The odds of contracting meningitis twice are said to be 14 million to one -  Parents Nicola and Mitchell knew something was wrong when Martha woke up one morning in September and seemed "floppy".  When Martha continued to be drowsy and started vomiting Nicola rushed her straight to hospital. The potentially lethal 7F bacterial strain of the disease meant there was no sign of the tell-tale rash associated with its more manageable viral form. Ten per cent of  bacterial meningitis cases are fatal and around 15 per cent of people who contract the strain are left with severe physical difficulties.  Martha was diagnosed with meningitis and was immediately transferred to Addenbrooke's Hospital, a leading university teaching hospital in Cambridge. After months of antibiotics, physiotherapy and a long hospital stay the family hoped  the worst was behind them. But in an extremely rare turn of events Martha contracted a second strain of meningitis in February. Nicola said: "I recognised the signs from the first time, I called 111 and they told me to wait 24 hours but I wasn't happy with that so I took her to hospital straight away. "We caught it so early we didn't give it a chance." Doctor's confirmed Martha had contracted the disease a second time, put her on antibiotics immediately and kept her in hospital for a week.

Martha on the day she went into hospital

Doctor’s confirmed Martha had contracted the disease a second time, put her on antibiotics immediately and kept her in hospital for a week.

Fork-lift truck driver Mitchell, 31, said: “Luckily it didn’t hit her as hard as the first time, but she now has to be on oral antibiotics for around two years to make sure the infection is gone.”

Martha, who also deals with the difficulties of being born deaf, underwent surgery in April to seal her inner right ear.

Collect photo supplied by the family - Martha the day she woke in hospital. A brave toddler has survived meningitis twice after being struck down with two bouts of the deadly infection in just five months. See Masons story MNTWICE. Martha Norman had a greater chance of winning the lottery than contracting the same strain of bacterial meningitis twice. The two-and-a-half year-old pulled through despite suffering a stroke, septicaemia, surgery and a medically induced coma.  The odds of contracting meningitis twice are said to be 14 million to one -  Parents Nicola and Mitchell knew something was wrong when Martha woke up one morning in September and seemed "floppy".  When Martha continued to be drowsy and started vomiting Nicola rushed her straight to hospital. The potentially lethal 7F bacterial strain of the disease meant there was no sign of the tell-tale rash associated with its more manageable viral form. Ten per cent of  bacterial meningitis cases are fatal and around 15 per cent of people who contract the strain are left with severe physical difficulties.  Martha was diagnosed with meningitis and was immediately transferred to Addenbrooke's Hospital, a leading university teaching hospital in Cambridge. After months of antibiotics, physiotherapy and a long hospital stay the family hoped  the worst was behind them. But in an extremely rare turn of events Martha contracted a second strain of meningitis in February. Nicola said: "I recognised the signs from the first time, I called 111 and they told me to wait 24 hours but I wasn't happy with that so I took her to hospital straight away. "We caught it so early we didn't give it a chance." Doctor's confirmed Martha had contracted the disease a second time, put her on antibiotics immediately and kept her in hospital for a week.

Martha the day she woke in hospital

Doctors believe the meningitis took hold as a result of cochlear implant operation she had when she was a year old.

Mitchell added: “One of her ears wasn’t so successful and there was some brain fluid leakage.

“The doctors think that was the route to infection.

“Now the inner ear is sealed they are 99 per cent confident the infection won’t return.”

Martha’s speech and walking have been affected by her two brushes with the disease and the family do not yet know if she will suffer any permanent brain damage.

Mitchell said: “To look at her now you’d never know what she has been through.”

Nicola, 33, said: “We never thought it would happen to us, but it can happen to anyone.

“We are a good team and a strong family. We have been through so much since Martha was born.”

About half of all cases of meningitis, both bacterial and viral, occur in children under the age of five.

Ten per cent of bacterial meningitis cases are fatal and around 15 per cent of people who contract the strain are left with severe physical difficulties.

Nicola and Mitchell, who have three other children, have set up the Little Treasures Charity to raise money for Meningitis Now and support for children with special needs.

(LtoR) Kathy Norman. Martha Norman. Nicola Norman (Mum). Mitch Norman (Dad). Zak Stephens. Callaum Norman at Little Treasures Charity launch. A brave toddler has survived meningitis twice after being struck down with two bouts of the deadly infection in just five months. See Masons story MNTWICE. Martha Norman had a greater chance of winning the lottery than contracting the same strain of bacterial meningitis twice. The two-and-a-half year-old pulled through despite suffering a stroke, septicaemia, surgery and a medically induced coma.  The odds of contracting meningitis twice are said to be 14 million to one -  Parents Nicola and Mitchell knew something was wrong when Martha woke up one morning in September and seemed "floppy".  When Martha continued to be drowsy and started vomiting Nicola rushed her straight to hospital. The potentially lethal 7F bacterial strain of the disease meant there was no sign of the tell-tale rash associated with its more manageable viral form. Ten per cent of  bacterial meningitis cases are fatal and around 15 per cent of people who contract the strain are left with severe physical difficulties.  Martha was diagnosed with meningitis and was immediately transferred to Addenbrooke's Hospital, a leading university teaching hospital in Cambridge. After months of antibiotics, physiotherapy and a long hospital stay the family hoped  the worst was behind them. But in an extremely rare turn of events Martha contracted a second strain of meningitis in February. Nicola said: "I recognised the signs from the first time, I called 111 and they told me to wait 24 hours but I wasn't happy with that so I took her to hospital straight away. "We caught it so early we didn't give it a chance." Doctor's confirmed Martha had contracted the disease a second time, put her on antibiotics immediately and kept her in hospital for a week.

Martha and family at the launch of the Little Treasures Charity

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