Baby Jackson fights for life

GWYNETH HYNDMAN
Last updated 05:00 16/10/2012
Jackson Chalmers-Wilson
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STRONG HEART: Nine-week-old Jackson Chalmers-Wilson in Starship children’s hospital.

Jackson Chalmers-Wilson
MOURNED: Jackson Chalmers-Wilson.

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Invercargill is rallying around the family of a 9-week-old Southland boy fighting for his life in Auckland's Starship Hospital after developing a rare form of meningitis.

Jackson Chalmers-Wilson was transferred to the paediatric intensive care unit at Starship children's hospital with an infection from E. Coli meningitis, or swelling in the brain, on Sunday.

Yesterday, Jackson's mother, Louise Chalmers, said his condition was critical but he was being treated by "the best medical team in New Zealand".

Ms Chalmers and Jackson's father, John Wilson, were updating friends and family in Southland on Jackson's condition via a Facebook page a friend had set up to raise support for the couple, who also have a daughter, Faith, who has Down syndrome. Faith, 8, is being cared for by Ms Chalmers' sister while the family stays close to Jackson in Auckland.

Jackson was first taken to Southland Hospital last Sunday when he was running a high fever. Ms Chalmers said she had called the Plunket phone line first and described his symptoms and they immediately referred her to Healthline, who in turn told Ms Chalmers to take him to the emergency department.

Jackson's temperature had gone down by the time they arrived at the hospital because she had given him Panadol, and emergency department staff told her to take him home but keep an eye on him, she said.

Hours later, his temperature was high again and he had a high-pitched cry. He also didn't make eye contact with her when she tried feeding him, she said.

She took him back to Southland Hospital and while it was not confirmed as meningitis at the time, staff were "straight on the mark" and treated Jackson's condition as such and he was admitted into hospital care, Ms Chalmers said.

While he looked to be in recovery during the week, overnight on Friday his condition deteriorated as an infection set in and he had "seizure after seizure", she said.

The decision was made to transfer him to Auckland's Starship hospital but 120kmh winds delayed the transfer until later on Sunday.

Ms Chalmers said she and Jackson's father were relieved to be in the best place possible for their son.

Though he was not responding to the three or four antibiotics to fight the infection, his heart was still beating strong, she said.

"If anyone can help him, these people can.

"We are in the best place to be in the country for Jackson to be right now." The couple would be meeting with a specialist throughout the day, she said.

Southern District Health Board spokeswoman Stacy Belser said neither the Southland Hospital staff nor Public Health South would comment on the baby's condition, or on E.coli meningitis in general, citing privacy issues.

The New Zealand Medical Association referred clinical questions about E.coli meningitis to Dr Kate Baddock of Kawau Bay Health Centre, who said it was a very rare form of meningitis that was not readily contagious.

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She had had only one case of E.coli meningitis at the health centre in the past five years. E.coli meningitis was "extraordinarily serious", she said.

A fundraising website on Facebook has been created by Ms Chalmer's former employer at Frostbite Tattoo under the event title Raising Funds for Baby Jackson.

 

AT A GLANCE

What is the difference between meningococcal disease and meningitis? Meningitis refers to a swelling of the linings around the brain and spinal cord. You can get meningitis from a virus, bacteria, parasites, as well as other non-infectious causes such as cancer.

Meningococcal disease is the illness caused by a specific type of bacteria – meningococcal bacteria – which can include meningitis, though it also includes septicaemia, or blood poisoning.

Source: Health Ministry

- © Fairfax NZ News

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