Meningitis toddler takes first steps thanks to prosthetic limb after losing leg to deadly disease'She was jet black and her whole body was blistering and bubbling'



09:11 GMT, 18 May 2012

A toddler who almost died after contracting meningitis as a baby has taken her first steps – after doctors fitted her with a prosthetic leg.

Amy Wolstenholme had her left leg amputated at the knee to stop the disease from spreading.

Her mother Jade said: 'Watching my beautiful daughter take her first steps was a dream come true.

'I am so proud of her. It's fantastic that she has now got the prosthetic leg and means she can finally play in the garden with her big brother, instead of watching from the window in awe.

'She's been so determined to get mobile and having the ability to walk around has brought out a real curious side in her. It's fantastic to see.'

Amy Wolstenholme

Amy Wolstenholme at home

Amy Wolstenholme is learning to walk with a frame. She lost most of her left leg and part of her nostril collapsed after she contracted meningitis

Amy's meningitis, discovered by Jade in 2010 while she slept in her cot when she was just five months old, turned her whole body black and blistered her skin.

Doctors warned Jade, 23, that her little girl might not survive the illness and she was hooked up to 16 different machines and had to battle for life.

Jade said: 'I walked in to give Amy her morning bottle and when I picked her up, noticed a purple rash on her cheek. She was grey in colour and I was more concerned with that. I thought the rash could just have been chicken pox.

'Then she suddenly became drowsy and her body was floppy – she was losing consciousness. I rang an ambulance immediately and prayed that she'd be alright.'

Amy was rushed to Blackpool Victoria Hospital where doctors and nurses swarmed around her – they diagnosed meningococcal septicaemia, a type of meningitis.

Jade said: 'She was dying but she wasn't making a noise. I was on my own and I watched as the doctors started putting needles in her head. I told them I couldn't watch and had to come out.

'I couldn't stand to look at Amy, she was jet black and her whole body was blistering and bubbling. I thought I was losing her. I was petrified. She was born perfectly healthy and now this was happening.

'A doctor came out and took us into the relatives' room. /05/18/article-2146241-13275E1E000005DC-258_634x485.jpg” width=”634″ height=”485″ alt=”Jade with daughter Amy shortly after her birth” class=”blkBorder” />

Jade with daughter Amy shortly after her birth

Amy following treatment for meningitis. She lost the tips of two fingers to the disease

Amy following treatment for meningitis. She lost the tips of two fingers to the disease and needed numerous skin grafts

Amy was taken to Alder Hey Children's Hospital, in Liverpool, and was sedated. For the next two weeks Jade sat by her daughter's bedside, not knowing what lay ahead or whether her child would pull through.

She said: 'When they finally woke up Amy, the surgeon said he would have to amputate her left foot or the disease would spread and she would die. I trusted the doctors 100 per cent and told them to do whatever they had to to save my baby. It was horrible. Amy was in so much pain and crying all the time.

'Her foot was amputated first because that's where the infection was, but it had spread so they wanted to amputate above the knee and we had to go back again.

'She lost the bottom part of her leg and her knee cap. Part of her nostril collapsed too, which affects her breathing. Skin had to be taken from the back of her ear to build the nostril back up.

'Amy's had countless operations – skin grafts because her skin was black, the leg amputation and the amputation of two of the fingers on her right hand. But she's pulled through them all.'

Amy Wolstenholme at home

Amy Wolstenholme

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Now, 18 months on from the near-death experience and 46 operations later, Jade, from near Blackpool, says that Amy has a good quality life and is determined not to let her disability hold her back.

Amy – whose leg was fitted at Preston Limb Centre – will return to Alder Hey once a fortnight for check-ups. Because she is growing at such a quick rate, she will have to be fitted for a new prosthetic leg every eight weeks.

Jade said: 'She is still my beautiful little girl. Having the new leg fitted means she can play outside with her friends and, hopefully one day, run around with all the other kids.

'She is such a happy, smiley girl despite everything she has been through. I just feel lucky to have her.'