The heartbreaking moment an eight-month-old baby died in his mum’s arms has been shared in a bid to raise awareness of the disease.
Louise and John Done, from Bolton, are still coming to terms with the loss of their son Harry, who died of Meningitis B in 2015, just a day after being diagnosed.
The family had to make the decision to turn off Harry’s life support after doctors told them the terrible infection had left him brain damaged.
The couple hope the shocking image will raise awareness of the disease so no other parents have to go through the heartbreak that they did.
“The reason we released the pictures is because people don’t realise how brutal meningitis can be,” said the mum.
“Meningitis ravages them before your eyes,” Louise Done said. “It’s unbelievable what it does. It eats you away.
“Harry looked unrecognisable. The rash was black, he was swollen and then we were told his kidneys weren’t working. He just doubled in size.
“We find it hard every day. You can’t describe the loss of a child. There is nothing else like it. It was surreal. The weeks after are hard to remember.
“It was my worst nightmare come true. It feels like I’ve been in a parallel world after his death. Your whole perception on life changes.”
Explaining when they found out of their son’s illness, Done said she got a call from her husband’s daughter, Shelby, 19, on 19 February 2015, telling her that Harry wasn’t well.
At first the couple thought it was just a bug but after returning home they immediately called an ambulance after seeing the state that the eight-month-old was in.
When the ambulance arrived they gave him antibiotics to attack the meningitis and put him on oxygen. He was later taken to hospital where he died that night at 8.32pm.
“As soon as I walked in I had a gut feeling,” she said. “I was overwhelmed with worry. I didn’t even pick him up I just panicked and rang for an ambulance.
“When they came they gave him a shot of antibiotics, which attacks the meningitis, and put him on oxygen. We knew he was seriously ill.
“Then the rash started to appear. He was covered from head to toe in septicaemia.”
The mum continued: “They were trying to stabilise him and then I just remember the doctors saying they needed to put him to sleep but I didn’t want to because I thought I was never going to see him again.
“I knew he wouldn’t wake up, he was looking in my eyes and I told him I would be here when he wakes up.”
The parents were told that his brain had swollen and that he was brain dead. They were given the option to leave him on the machines but it would put him at risk of having a heart attack.
Done said: “We didn’t want him to suffer anymore.
“We had a priest come to bless him and then they took him off the machines and we held him. That was the moment he passed away. He passed in my arms.”
Since the passing of Harry, Louise has been raising awareness to the importance of getting babies vaccinated for MenB.
This vaccination is offered to babies aged two months, with a second dose at four months and another at 12 months free of charge but is also offered privately for people who are ineligible.
Babies born on or after 1 May are also being offered the vaccine as part of a one off catch-up campaign.
The mum said: “I was never aware that you could get a vaccination privately but it’s a small price to pay for something that could save lives.
“A lot of people have been affected by it, they never knew about it either and a lot of people are now paying privately.
“I’m currently expecting another child, which has been hard, I’m a lot more over protective and wary of what can go wrong.
“I’ve been really anxious. It’s hard for people to understand when they haven’t been through it themselves.
“Sometimes I can’t help but get upset when something reminds me of him, I would just start crying out of nowhere.
“Harry was such a happy boy. He was cheeky and smiley. He would always be laughing and smiling. He was such a happy and content little boy.
“The priest said he had never seen so many people at a funeral before, he was so loved. Even though he’s passed you want to know that he’s okay. I still love and care for him.”
Louise has raised £20,059 for Meningitis Now since the loss of Harry to help other families who are suffering, donations can be made here.