Toddler spends Christmas in hospital fighting for her life after contracting Strep A

Mila Stringer had to be taken to Derriford Hospital after her symptoms got more severe. Credit: Thea Rowe

A toddler was rushed to hospital and had to spend Christmas fighting for her life after contracting Strep A and sepsis.

Mila Stringer, who is just 19-months-old, was sent home from nursery on 14 December, but had to be taken to Derriford Hospital after her symptoms got more severe.

She has since had four operations and her mum, 24-year-old Thea Rowe, now wants to help raise awareness of the signs and symptoms to look out for.

She says she felt she should have acted more quickly when she first noticed her daughter 'wasn't right'.

Thea, who lives in Higher Compton with her partner Aidan Stringer, said: "I thought she was going to die. We didn't have a Christmas and she is just about to have her fifth operation. We are hoping it will be the last.

"When she first got ill and wasn't settling I knew something wasn't right - I actually said that to my partner. I just had a bad feeling.

"If something in your gut doesn't feel right you should trust it. I should have taken her to the hospital right there, right then."

Mila was sent home from nursery with a high temperature and her parents took her to see the GP.

But the following day Mila refused to get up and 'couldn't walk'. She also had hot, mottled skin. The day after her lips, hands, and feet turned blue and her right arm was 'swollen and rock hard'.

Thea rushed her daughter to Derriford Hospital where a doctor saw her in the Emergency Department within 10 minutes.

Thea said: "That's when I knew it was serious. Her heart rate was 190 bpm and she had a temperature of 39.9C. It was really scary.

"They started treating her straight away for meningitis and sepsis and she was moved to a high-dependency unit.

"She wasn't getting any better and they couldn't get her temperature under control. Suddenly she was surrounded by doctors and surgeons and they said they were taking her in for emergency surgery.

"They took her down and made four big cuts down her arm to release the pressure and release fluid. They found the infection and cleaned it all out and bandaged her up.

Mila's parents hope she will be able to return home soon Credit: BPM Media/ Thea Rowe

"For about three days she was on morphine, antibiotics and fluids and was just lying there; she didn't wake up at all.

"She had surgery again on Sunday and woke up for the first time again on Monday. I hadn't heard her voice for three days so it was so nice to have her with us again."

Mila has now been moved from the high-dependency unit and is set to undergo a blood transfusion today (28 December) before undergoing surgery once more.

Thea added: "She was diagnosed with an invasive form of Strep A which turned into sepsis which attacked her elbow joint.

"She is doing a lot better now and is much more herself; she is playing and laughing and is definitely out of the woods.

"But the doctors said she could have died; they had a bed in Bristol's ICU ready and waiting for her.

"It was just all so out of the blue. We feel like we did what we needed to do, but it is a bit annoying her GP didn't give us antibiotics when she first took her in, especially considering I had been ill with Strep a few days beforehand."

The family hopes to be home soon and because they missed Christmas, they are going to keep the tree up and recreate the day when they are all back home together.