Harper Aitken was just three when she was killed by sepsis leaving her mum, Lori, heartbroken. In less than 36 hours, sepsis ended the life of a baby girl, full of fun and energy, and left a devastated Lori dealing with an inconsolable loss.
Lori, from Bo-ness in West Lothian, said: “Harper was a healthy, feisty, little girl who loved animals, being outside getting muddy and playing with her big brother, Cayden. She loved to dance and her favourite singer was Ed Sheeran who we played at her funeral.
“On March 7th last year, she woke up with a fever but was otherwise okay. I work locally and when I got home that afternoon her grandparents told me she had been sick an hour previously. I checked her over and found her fever was higher and she had a rash on her tummy. I put a glass over it and it didn’t disappear so I called an ambulance.”
When the paramedics arrived, Harper’s temperature was 41.5° and she was taken to Forth Valley Hospital, Larbert.
Lori said the doctor who examined Harper thought she had a urine infection so a sample was required. Harper had diarrhoea while giving the sample and had perked up. Lori said the doctor assumed she was suffering from a tummy bug, her rash had faded, she was drinking lots of fluids and was released.
In what was to have tragic consequences, Lori says no checks were made for sepsis.
She said: “At home next day Harper was running to the toilet as a normal child with a tummy bug but that afternoon, although alert and watching her programmes, we noticed small blue dots on her hands and legs and her lips were going blue.
“I rushed her to our local GP who recognised the symptoms of sepsis, gave her penicillin and called for an ambulance which arrived quickly and took her back to hospital.
“Her legs were drilled into to get fluids directly into her body and a decision was made to put her in a coma but her heart stopped as they tried to do so and she never revived despite desperate efforts by the medical staff. My baby girl was gone.
“From her fever starting to the time of her death wasn’t even 36 hours. She died on the 8th of March 2019.
“Nearly a year later I’m finding it so hard and I’ve had counselling to help with the flashbacks. The heartache is indescribable. Harper was so funny and full of energy, she is loved and missed dearly.”
Lori says all medical staff must be more aware of sepsis and its symptoms. “Sepsis was never mentioned when Harper was seen at hospital for the first time on the day before she died and, therefore, no checks were made for it. There has since been a review at the hospital about this following an investigation.
“I want Harper’s death to change things at A&E units. Sepsis was never suggested but if it had been, Harper might still be here.”