Toddler who lost hands to meningitis enjoys her first real Christmas – using special cutlery to eat a turkey dinner

Kaiya Jackson  Kaiya Jackson can eat her first chritmas dinner using special cutlery

Recovery: Kaiya lost the fingers from both hands to meningitis (left). She has now learnt how to use a fork using special cutlery attached to her wrists
Parents reveal how they could only look on in horror as toddler fought life-threatening blood-poisoning bugThis will be Kaiya”s first proper Christmas, says her mother

A young girl who spent last Christmas battling for her life in hospital will enjoy her first festive dinner this year – despite losing her fingers and a foot to meningitis.

Kaiya Jackson will use special cutlery that attaches to her wrists in order to eat her Christmas turkey and will also manage to unwrap her gifts from Father Christmas using just her stumps.

The two-year-old was rushed by critical care ambulance to Birmingham Children”s Hospital on December 16 last year and spent the next 10 days in an induced coma while her tiny body fought the blood-poisoning bug septicaemia.

Her mother Ashley Ward, 24, from Burton-on-Trent, Staffordshire, said: “When December 16 came round this year, my partner Dan and I shuddered to think that it was a year since Kaiya went to hospital.

“It doesn”t feel like a year – it feels like yesterday. But to look at her and to see how far she has come in the last 12 months is incredible.

“I know she”s my daughter and I”m bound to say this, but she”s the bravest and most amazing little girl I know.”

Full-time carer Ashley and her partner Dan Jackson, 24, who works in food production, first noticed Kaiya was poorly when she developed a fever while Ashley was six months pregnant with her little brother Jayden, now nine months.

The local GP said she had a virus and sent Ashley away with directions to give her daughter children”s Nurofen and to keep an eye on her.

But Ashley”s mother”s intuition told her something was amiss and she and her partner took her to Dan”s mother”s house where they would be just a few minutes drive from the hospital.

Kaiya appeared to rally but not long afterwards Ashley noticed two, small, purple marks on the backs of her legs.

After removing her nappy she discovered Kaiya was covered in a blotchy purple rash and recognising instantly one of the tell-tale signs of meningitis, rushed her to the local hospital in Burton-on-Trent.

Ashley (left) said she may have gone overboard on Christmas decorations this year as it is the first proper celebration that her daughter has enjoyed

Ashley (left) said she may have gone overboard on Christmas decorations this year as it is the first proper celebration that her daughter has enjoyed

Ashley said: “It was like something out of a film. There was about 20 doctors there, pricking her with needles and hooking her up to drips, rushing around. It was just total panic.

“It felt like a nightmare, Kaiya was crying and I was crying too but I didn”t want to look at her because I didn”t want her to see that I was upset.”

It was soon decided that Kaiya needed specialist treatment and she was rushed by critical care ambulance to Birmingham Children”s Hospital and placed immediately in intensive care.

Doctors told Ashley and Dan that the next 48 hours were crucial and that there was a chance she might not survive.

Ashley said: “From that point on all we could think about was getting her through the next 48 hours. It was horrendous seeing her hooked up to all these wires and tubes and her whole body apart from her belly was almost black with septicaemia.

“Her body had ballooned up from all the fluid inside her. All Dan and I could do was look on in horror.”

Kaiya battled through the next few days and Ashley and Dan moved into the hospital accommodation so they could spend every waking minute with their daughter.

As Christmas Day arrived, rather than opening her gifts under the tree Kaiya gave her parents a present they had been waiting for by taking her first breaths away from a ventilator.

Kaiya had turned a corner but the septicaemia had taken a horrible toll on her body. Doctors explained how they would have to remove all her fingers including part of one hand and perform multiple skin grafts.

She endured dozens of operations and earlier this month it was decided that it would be best for the growing toddler to have her damaged foot amputated as well in order to allow her to walk with a prosthetic.

Dan said: “I was so worried about how it would affect her. I wondered if she would be able to play with her toys or do all the things other children could do.

“But mostly we were just glad she was still here with us. We saw other children in the hospital with meningitis that had not been as lucky as Kaiya.”

Ashley added: “She was in hospital for three months and needed lots of physiotherapy afterwards just to do things like lifting her own head up as she was so weak.

“I was worried how she would cope with things like playing with her toys and sometimes I would stop myself from buying her things in the supermarket, thinking to myself, “Will she even be able to play with this”

“Now, I wonder what I worried about. There is not one toy in the house she can”t play with.

“In the future we will look at getting her prosthetic hands but we will leave that decision to her as at the moment she can pick up the tiniest crumb on the floor and nothing seems to faze her.

“She crawls about and walks on her knees but hopefully that will change when she gets her new foot in January.

“I can”t wait to take her and her brother to the park. She keeps asking me when she will be able to walk and have new shoes.”

Kaiya has adapted well to the challenges she faces without her fingers and has even learned how to eat using a special fork and spoon that attach to her wrist.

Ashley said: “This Christmas will be like her first proper Christmas as she was only five months old for the first one, then spent last year in hospital and didn”t get any presents until March.

“It makes it extra special knowing how close we came to not having her here and I think I might have gone a bit overboard with presents and decorations this year.

“As Kaiya gets older I hope she understands that losing her fingers was what saved her life.

“I want other parents to be aware of the symptoms of meningitis as if I had not recognised the signs she might not be here with us this Christmas at all.”