Meningococcal baby back on ventilator

By ALAN PERROTT

Sakiusa "Junior" Uluvula, the 10-month-old baby battling to ward off meningococcal B disease, is back on a ventilator after developing a new infection.

Junior has already lost his legs and right arm to the disease and distraught relatives have gathered at the Starship Hospital intensive care unit to hold a vigil with his parents.

His mother, Tima Uluvula, was yesterday extremely upset by the setback as Junior had improved enough last week to come off the ventilator on Friday.

"He's not looking very good," she said.

"They're putting him back on the breathing machine now.

"His temperature is high - very, very high. The doctors reckon it's another infection."

The news is a lot better for 7-month-old Charlotte Cleverley-Bisman, who is also at the Starship. The Waiheke Island baby has lost most of her arms and legs after contracting the disease four weeks ago.

"She's astounded everybody for the way she has healed," said her father, Perry Bisman.

"There's no lingering infection and she won't need any further amputations. That's a 'probably won't' but she's doing pretty good.

"We're rapt. We just can't believe how fast she's healed because the last thing we were told was that doctors may have to amputate again."

He said they took Charlotte for a 20-minute pushchair ride inside the hospital yesterday.

"We are pretty tired, but we took her round to see the people who have helped her."

Charlotte was admitted a month ago "and we've been here 24 hours around the clock, with one of us in her room all the time. There's still a long way to go, but the news is getting better".

The last amputations, on her right leg above the knee and right arm above the elbow, may prevent the muscles in Charlotte's limbs from growing, which could lead to problems with prosthetic attachments later in life.

Within the next two weeks, Charlotte may be moved to the burns unit at Middlemore Hospital to be closer to the plastic surgeons who have been travelling cross-town to treat her.

Mr Bisman said Charlotte would probably need more corrective surgery over the next 18 months.

Herald Feature: Meningococcal Disease

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