Mum’s agony as son, 11, dies with meningitis and sepsis within hours of feeling poorly

An 11-year-old boy died with meningitis and sepsis little over a day after feeling tired, feverish and complaining of a bad stomach, his devastated mum has said.

Within hours Ieuan Pugh’s condition took such a dramatic turn for the worse that he stopped breathing and needed an emergency trip to hospital where doctors discovered he had both meningitis and sepsis.

Despite more than a dozen medics working desperately to save Ieuan’s life, his organs shut down and he died on November 25 last year.

“I remember sitting there blaming myself. I knew about sepsis and I knew about meningitis but why couldn’t I stop this from happening? I tried to act as quickly as I could but it still wasn’t enough to save our son,” his devastated mum Samantha Watkins told Wales Online.

Ieuan, who adored the Sea Cadets, went to Cardiff West Community High School as normal on Friday, November 22, last year before going to stay with his dad for the weekend.

“He came back at 6pm on Sunday evening like he always does and his dad said he had been unwell over the weekend with a bit of a temperature and feeling lethargic,” recalled Samantha.

“He went and had a lie down on the settee and he was being ‘harassed’ by his twin three-year-old brothers which is completely normal. They were jumping all over him trying to get him to go and play.

“So I suggested he go upstairs for a bit of peace and quiet. I just thought it was a typical winter viral thing and gave him some Calpol. I went up to check on him an hour later and he was in the bathroom with diarrhoea. This confirmed to me that he had an upset tummy.”

However on her final visit to his bedroom before going to sleep herself Samantha noticed something about Ieuan which triggered alarm bells.

“I noticed a patch on the floor and realised Ieuan had been sick. I popped on the light so I could clean up and as I looked at him I realised he was now covered head to toe in a deep purple rash.

“I went into panic mode and screamed down to my husband to grab the phone and dial 999.”

Samantha, who is qualified in first aid, was told by the Welsh Ambulance Service that it would be a four-hour wait for an ambulance to arrive.

“Ieuan’s eyes looked glazed over and he was failing to make much sense,” she said.

“Although he was breathing it was very laboured and very strange. At one point he did stop breathing so I rang the ambulance back straightaway.

“Thankfully they did send an ambulance around, this time within minutes, but we had to start CPR on him. I was petrified.”

Ieuan was brought downstairs in preparation for the paramedics’ arrival at their Ely home.

“We wanted to keep him away from all our other children who were still asleep,” Samantha added.

“The second paramedic hadn’t even made it to the door when the first made the decision to carry him out to the ambulance.

“When we got into the ambulance and antibiotics were given to him he seemed to improve and start making sense again. At that point I had some hope he’d be okay.”

An intensive care bed was set aside in preparation for Ieuan’s arrival at the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff.

“The critical care team were waiting for us and they began work straightaway,” Samantha said.

“I felt like the whole thing was a big blur. I was just sat on a chair watching 13 people all working their hardest and trying their best to save my precious son.”