Family’s bid to give back

SUPPORT: Ruby Fletcher and her parents Laura and Ryan in their running vests. (d208a237)
SUPPORT: Ruby Fletcher and her parents Laura and Ryan in their running vests. (d208a237)

THE family of a little girl who almost died after contracting meningitis are taking part in a gruelling half marathon to raise money for research into the illness.

Ruby Fletcher contracted bacterial meningitis and septicaemia just before December 2011 when she was just 12 months old.

She was put on a life support machine and became so ill that her family had her blessed by a priest.

But doctors battled to get her illness under control – and even got her home in time for Christmas dinner.

Now her parents Laura and Ryan, from Gomersal, are among 20 family members who have signed up to take part in Sunday’s Great North Run to raise money for the Meningitis Research Foundation.

Laura said: “Ruby had a bug and came down with a rash. We tried the ‘tumbler test’ and the rash didn’t disappear.

“We took her to Bradford A&E and they took one look at her and said it was bad.

“They said her body was going to shut down and she wouldn’t be able to breathe for herself. Eventually they said it wasn’t looking good, and we had to get a priest in to bless her.

“You feel like you are looking down on somebody else, and it’s not happening to you.”

But Ruby’s condition improved and she was transferred to Leeds General Infirmary’s intensive care unit, where staff praised the care she had received in Bradford.

Laura said: “Her body had to recover from the intensive treatment she had received to get the infection out. They had to pump her with twice her body weight in fluid. She was on a life support machine for five days.”

Laura said Ruby was one of very few children to have been discharged directly from an intensive care unit.

She said: “They normally move them onto a hospital ward but it was the day before Christmas and she had made an amazing recovery.

“They said it would be better for her to be at home with her family.

“She was really poorly – she was still on all the drugs, and we were all still pretty traumatised, but we managed to have a Christmas dinner with family.

“She is now doing well and we all feel so lucky which is why we are doing this run – we knew we had to give something back.

“When you come that close to the horrendous reality that your baby might die, it’s quite hard to bring yourself back.

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“But part of this run is to help our healing “We are still recovering but focusing on the fact we are among the lucky ones.”

Among the 20 runners are Laura and Ryan, their siblings and parents, and other family members.

They will be taking part in the 13.1 mile half marathon from Gateshead to Newcastle, and hope to raise thousands for the charity, which funds research to prevent meningitis and septicaemia and improve survival rates.

Sponsor them at www.justgiving.com/Luke-Fletcher.