Robbie was just five and a half months old when he was placed into an induced coma.
It was there, in a Perth hospital, that Robbie’s mother Desiree Scofield, 25, discovered the disease her little boy was suffering from, meningococcal B, could have been easily prevented with a simple vaccine.
She was heartbroken.
But also furious. Because this crucial information – learnt only by Googling the disease from the hospital where Scofield’s infant son was fighting for his life in 2014 – came too late for her son.
“We watched his limbs die in front of our eyes within two hours of getting to hospital,” the married mother-of-two tells Mamamia.
As Robbie’s tiny body began to respond to the antibiotics, he was placed in an induced coma for two months to assist his recovery. It wasn’t until a year later, when he was stronger, that he could have his little limbs amputated.
LISTEN: Holly Wainwright and Andrew Daddo unpack the causes and repercussions of meningococcal. Post continues below.
“I’ll never be able to hold his hand again,” Scofield recalled thinking at the time. Of course, it’s a thought that still occurs to her every single day, as she performs occupational and physical therapies on her son.
“That’s an aspect people don’t think about when it comes to meningococcal disease, ” she says. “One of the biggest issues of the disease is the long-term damage it does to families.”
Altogether, the now three-year-old was in hospital for 18 months. In that time, Robbie missed out on normal socialisation, which is why he now requires speech therapy every day. Caring for her son is a full-time job for Scofield, who is also mum to six-month-old Luna.
The devastating, long-term consequences of the disease are why Scofield is determined to ensure meningococcal disease doesn’t rob another family of what could have been a cheerful, peaceful future – one without endless hospital visits, without exhausting and expensive therapies, and with a little boy who could run and play like other children his age.
Scofield is now working with Meningitis Centre Australia to raise awareness and to petition the government about the available vaccines.
What is meningococcal disease?
Statistics obtained by Mamamia from the Department of Health show that the number of meningococcal disease cases in Australia rose by nearly two-thirds in the last year, increasing from 252 in 2016 to 383 in 2017. The number of deaths also rose from 11 to 28.