Three-year-old has legs and fingers amputated after deadly infection misdiagnosed as tonsillitis

A three-year-old boy had both his legs and most of his fingers amputated after doctors wrongly diagnosed a life-threatening infection as common childhood condition tonsillitis.

Reuben Harvey-Smith was taken to A&E at Ipswich Hospital after accidentally burning himself.

When his mother Louise took him back two days later with a fever and a sore throat, she was told Reuben had tonsillitis, and was given antibiotics.

The following day, the toddler was fighting for his life and was later diagnosed with toxic shock syndrome, which is caused by bacteria entering the wound and releasing poisonous toxins into the blood.

Ms Harvey-Smith, 41, called the burns unit at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital for a second opinion when she suspected things were still not right, and doctors immediately suspected toxic shock.

Reuben was taken to A&E at Ipswich Hospital after accidentally burning himself. Credit: Family handout/PA Wire

After the infection took hold, Reuben had to have both legs amputated below the knee and also lost seven fingers.

Ipswich Hospital NHS Trust admitted liability and conceded that amputation could have been avoided if the condition had been correctly diagnosed and treated earlier.

"I try not to waste energy getting angry," Ms Harvey-Smith said. "Because at the end of the day I've still got my son, but what I have got to do now is make sure it doesn't happen to anyone else."

She said Reuben refused to let the ordeal get him down.

"He came round from the operation and the first thing he did was ask for 'mummy cuddles' and his dinner," she said.

Reuben Harvey-Smith pictured with his mother Louise. Credit: Family handout/PA Wire

"He looked at his amputated legs and said 'poorly feet gone, get new ones'. He just accepts it and gets on with things. He never gets frustrated."

Ms Harvey-Smith is now raising awareness about the link between burns and toxic shock, and has launched a fundraising campaign for better prosthetic legs so Reuben can get around more easily.

She said each pair cost around £6,000 and need to be replaced twice a year.

The NHS trust has made an interim payment of £50,000 while legal proceedings continue over a final settlement.

Reuben Harvey-Smith pictured after his amputation. Credit: Family handout/PA Wire