A toddler struck by “the worst case of meningitis doctors had seen in 25 years” finally arrived home on Thursday after life-saving medical treatment.
Kia Gott, 1, had all four limbs amputated after contracting a rare strain of the killer disease at just nine months old in September last year.
Kia, of West Yorkshire, had been left brain damaged and her devastated parents, Paul Gott and Vikki Mitchell, were told by doctors their youngest child might not make it.
However, little fighter Kia refused to give up and on Thursday, she was allowed home for the first time on a day-release basis.
Gott described the moment as “the best present I’ve ever had delivered to my door”.
Although the long-awaited visit lasted just for one day, Gott and Mitchell have been told Kia could be home permanently as of Monday.
“I have never seen Vikki cry as much as she has done today,” Gott, 35, said. “It’s just unreal – it’s the best present I’ve ever had delivered to my door. After all this time we just couldn’t believe it.”
The overwhelmed dad, who also shares two older children with Mitchell, said Kia had spent most of the day sleeping.
“She was awake when she arrived but after she’d had her feeds and medication she just settled and went to sleep,” he said. “Kayden and Elsie have been so excited – it’s been like a new lease of life for them.”
“With Vikki at the hospital 24 hours a day and me at home looking after them we’ve been apart so much,” Gott said. “Elsie told me it was like the family was back together again.”
For many months while at Leeds General Infirmary’s high-dependency unit, the 16-month-year-old baby was given powerful painkillers after painful skin grafts.
Doctors were unable to say how her brain function had been affected by the illness until she was weaned from the drugs but her parents had hoped for the best.
However, Gott, said the harsh reality has set in that the Meningitis C septicemia Kia contracted last year has damaged her seriously.
“It’s more apparent now she’s come off the drugs that she is brain-damaged but she can at least hear us,” he said. “The future doesn’t really exist for us right now – we just take it day-by-day as we don’t know what to expect.”
“We’ve never looked after a disabled baby – I feel like I’ve been born again at 35 and from the day she comes home permanently we’ll start learning,” he said.
Gott discovered a rash on his daughter’s face, neck and chest when he went to check on her in the middle of the night nine months ago.
Paramedics arrived but her veins had collapsed, so they had to drill into her tiny shin to give her emergency drugs.
She was then rushed to Bradford Royal Infirmary where medics told her family it was meningitis and she was unlikely to survive.
Specialists told the family it was the worst case of meningitis C they had dealt with for a quarter of a century.
Kia contracted the condition before she could receive the meningitis vaccine, which is administered to infants at about 12 months old.
The government stopped the vaccination for three-month-old babies in July 2016.
Gott and Mitchell said they have been told by Bradford Council’s social care department they will receive no nursing support for Kia at home as she under three-years-old.
They were also shocked to learn they do not qualify for a disabled lift – meaning they have to sleep downstairs on a fold-out bed with Kia.
“We were told throughout the whole process we would have a nurse in the morning and at night caring for her at home,” Gott said. “It’s unbelievable – after what’s happened to Kia they should be running around trying to look after her.”
“We’ve not asked for this and in my eyes Kia should be getting as much help as the government can give,” he said.
Wellwishers have donated more than $47,000 through a crowdfunding page to support the family’s future. An additional page has been set up to help them cover expenses.