Bucks Fizz singer Jay Aston broke down in tears as she told how she "nearly lost" her 18-year-old daughter after she was hospitalised with bacterial meningitis.
The 60-year-old, who won the Eurovision Song Contest with pop group Bucks Fizz in 1981, told ITV’s Loose Women how daughter Josie started to display what she thought were flu-like symptoms and was later put in an induced coma.
She said Josie is now awake and still in hospital, but they are hoping she will be able to return home soon.
Aston said: “What Josie wants is for people to be made aware of what’s happened to her. She was in perfect health, she was the healthiest I’ve seen her.
“She was on like a bit of a fitness kick and just looked glowing, and then literally overnight, well, we nearly lost her.”
Aston, who has performed with Mike Nolan and Cheryl Baker in The Fizz, a spin-off of the original group, said Josie had called her asking her to come home, saying she did not feel well.
“I got back and she had been lying in the sun. So, I thought maybe she’s got a bit of heatstroke and so she went and got into my bed, and she just didn’t seem well,” she recalled.
Josie had a high temperature which kept rising and Aston says she also had “an aching neck, joint pain" but thought she maybe had the flu.
“A couple of days before she’d been saying her joints were aching, but she’s just grown again. So, I’m going, ‘Oh, it’s growing pains’. But, no, it wasn’t," added Aston.
As her symptoms worsened and following a call with 111, an ambulance was called, but Aston said it never arrived, and hours later, around “three o’clock in the morning, she’s like, ‘Mom, I’m not right. I’m really not right’.”
“So fortunately she stayed in my bed so I could keep an eye on her. If she’d gone in her own bed. I don’t think I’d have a daughter.
“I turned all the lights on and went ‘Let’s have a look at you’.
“Because, bizarrely, my husband (Dave Colquhoun) had meningitis 19 years ago and she was my silver lining of nearly losing my husband.
“So, I kind of knew what to look for - (a) rash in their arms - and it was like four little brown spots. I knew then what it was… I knew it was meningitis, because it was very similar to what my husband had.”
She drove Josie to the hospital where she was admitted and “within 20 minutes she saw a doctor and she was on a drip, and they were treating her for bacterial meningitis,” she said, adding: “Within one hour, she was covered in the rash, literally everywhere”.
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A day and a half later, Josie’s organs were failing, Aston recalled, explaining: “They’d already given us the 50/50 and they said we need to put her in a coma.
“She was in the coma for five days but they only stopped anaesthetising her after three days and she just didn’t come around.
“She said to me, ‘Mummy, I will be awake on Mother’s Day’, because she knew that meant a lot to me. And she didn’t wake up on Mother’s Day, but she woke up two days later”.
Aston said she hopes for Josie to be home in a few days, saying that her “kidneys had failed for a few weeks but they are starting to work”.
What is meningitis?
Meningitis is an infection of the protective membranes, known as meninges, which surround the brain and spinal cord, and is usually caused by a viral or bacterial infection.
Viral meningitis is the least serious, but most common, type of the disease and will usually get better on its own, while bacterial meningitis is more rare and requires urgent medical treatment.
According to the NHS website, symptoms of meningitis can develop suddenly, including a high temperature, being sick, a headache, and a rash that does not fade “when a glass is rolled over it”, but a rash may not always develop, they say.
Symptoms can also include a stiff neck, a dislike of bright lights, drowsiness or unresponsiveness and seizures (fits), the NHS says.