As I kissed a healthy and happy Jack the Elf goodbye and told him that I loved him on Monday 17th December, I had no idea that would be the last time that I would see him. He went to school and had a day full of fun at his pantomime and class party. As Jack left school full of excitement, he went to stay at his dads and had a normal night of carry on, with nothing more than a temperature as he went to bed. He got up through the night and took paracetamol for his temperature but he had no other symptoms, he was awake the following morning, spoke to his dad and went back to sleep.
At 07.30 on Tuesday 18th December, I received a phone call from Derek (Jack’s dad) to say that I had to get to the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Paisley as soon as possible. As his dad went back into Jack’s room to get him up for school, Jack was unconscious and not breathing.
After getting Jack to the Royal Alexandra Hospital, the doctors managed to start his heart again but he was still unconscious. We knew early on that Jack was very sick but we did not know what with. All we did know was that the lack of oxygen to his brain had caused brain damage. Tests were run, a CT scan completed but there were no signs of a tumour or a haemorrhage. Despite the excellent doctors and nurses at the RAH, nobody knew what had caused this to happen to our gorgeous baby boy.
A phone call to Yorkhill Children’s Hospital in Glasgow left us astounded to find out that there were no beds available in Intensive Care for Jack. This left only one other option, for Jack to go to Edinburgh Sick Kids hospital. The team came through from Edinburgh and due to the equipment and 3 paramedics, we could not travel in the ambulance with Jack. This was the longest 90 minutes of my life, away from my baby unaware how he was but knowing only that my only baby would have wanted his mummy by his side holding his hand.
We arrived at Edinburgh to hear that they did not think that Jack would have survived the ambulance journey and that he may not make it through the night as whatever had made his heart stop that morning would probably cause it to stop again.
For the next 24 hours, Jack the Hulk showed his strength and he kept fighting to survive, despite heart, kidney and liver damage due to the lack of oxygen to his brain.
On Wednesday 19th December, blood tests showed that Jack had an Adenal virus, it is thought that this virus attacked his heart that morning and made it stop. A virus I thought? Viruses aren’t serious, a virus can't kill you...how little did I know. The virus had attacked Jack’s heart and made it stop, starving his brain of oxygen and causing significant brain damage.
The brain damage that had been caused meant that Jack could no longer fight. At 23.50 he decided that it was time to become the brightest star in the sky and he fell asleep in his mummy’s arms, with his daddy by his side and surrounded by the people who loved him most.
Jack was my only child and I am determined to make his legacy a lasting one. Jack was a happy, loving, caring little boy and everyone that knew him fell in love with his charm and personality. Jack had his whole life ahead of him but suddenly died 6 days before his 6th birthday. That is why I have set up this charity, with the hope of raising awareness and funds to help other families who face this heartache.
Who do you turn to for advice when you face every parents worst nightmare? The doctors and nurses in the hospitals gave amazing support to us and still do so but this continued support is not part of their job. They do that out of the kindness of their heart and in their own time even though their time is restricted as it is. The lack of support groups and facilities in Scotland for bereaved parents, particularly for sudden deaths in childhood could be improved. I want to make this support happen and ensure that it is easily accessible to other parents who go through what I can only describe as every parents worst nightmare.
Part of this will also include life saving first aid training and a special ambulance that can be used by families when children need to transferred to other hospitals. No parent should have to take the chance of having their child die in an ambulance without them.
Please help us in any way that you can to ensure that Jack shines bright in the sky by raising awareness and funds for the Brightest Star Charity.