A 5-year-old Tauranga boy is "lucky to be here" after contracting a deadly meningococcal infection and being put on life support, his mother says.
Parkvale's Renee Pavish yesterday spoke to the Bay of Plenty Times from her son Fusion's bedside at Starship Hospital about the horror of watching her boy fight for his life.
Fusion was admitted to hospital on New Year's Eve after what appeared to be cold or flu-like symptoms in the morning progressed to something far worse by late afternoon.
"Fusion is normally running around all over the place, but he was unable to settle, eat, and was badly shaking with hot and cold chills.
"He was also complaining of feeling very cold when in fact my son was burning up with a very high temperature," Pavish said.
"Fusion could hardly keep his eyes open, and after he violently spewed up, I decided it was time take him to a medical centre to be on the safe side and I'm so glad I did."
By the time they got to the 2nd Avenue medical centre, the tell-tale spots of meningococcal disease were "raging" over Fusion's body. Pavish said the doctor knew straight away what it was.
Fusion, whose body was floppy, was rushed to Tauranga Hospital, sedated, put on a ventilator, placed into an induced coma, and flown to Starship Hospital.
Pavish said she would never forget the tortuous drive from Tauranga to Starship in the early hours of New Year's Day after being told the news of her son's grave condition.
"Seeing my son fight for his life has been heart-breaking and scary. I really thought Fusion was going to die, and he would have if I hadn't got medical care for him when I did.
"The thought that Fusion could have died or been maimed for life is something I am still trying to get my head around. It's something that will stay with me for the rest of my life."
Fusion, who was on life-support in Starship's intensive care unit for about a week, has just been transferred to a ward but still cannot walk, talk, feed or toilet himself.
Pavish said she and her family had moved to Tauranga from Northland just before Christmas so Fusion's special educational needs could be better catered for.
"We were looking forward to settling into the neighbourhood and getting Fusion settled in school later this month and this has all come like a lightning bolt from the blue."
She has been struggling financially and has launched a Givealittle page to help fundraise costs to help pay for food and the other "bits and pieces" she will need to support her family while she remains at her son's bedside in Auckland.
Pavish said it will be a long road for her son to make a full recovery.
She said parents should be vigilant and if their child developed any flu-like symptoms as described "don't hesitate" take them to the doctor.
"I haven't been able to sleep much and I'm pretty much running on empty but my main concern is for my son who fortunately still has all his limbs and fingers and toes.
"The doctors who have treated Fusion have all told me he is very lucky to be here."
Two other Bay of Plenty people were also admitted to a hospital after contracting meningococcal infections over the Christmas New Year period.
An 8-year-old Te Puke girl from Fusion's extended family is a stable condition in Tauranga Hospital.
A 25-year-old Ōpōtiki man with no known links to the children remains in Whakatāne Hospital.
Final laboratory results were still being awaited to identify the specific infection strain.
Toi Te Ora medical officer of health Dr Jim Miller said while there had been no new cases identified in the region, he urged people to stay alert to the symptoms.
"As with most infections, good hygiene helps to reduce the risk and covering your coughs and sneezes, and regular hand washing is always important.
Miller said meningococcal disease symptoms could "very rapidly" progress to death or lead to permanent disability such as deafness or disfigurement.
"If you are concerned about a friend or family member, seek the advice of a medical professional immediately", he said.
Warning signs of meningococcal infections include:
Repeated bouts of shaking, chills, high fever, headache and/or a stiff neck, aching muscles, vomiting, and a rash (not always present).