Like any little girl on her birthday Lydia Cross is proud to be the centre of attention.
But it’s a day her parents Tony and Jodie feared they might not see.
“We always treasure every birthday with our little girls,” says Jodie.
“Because we were so close to losing them, it makes it all the more special.”
Lydia nearly lost her life to a deadly disease.
She survived but the infection led to her having both legs amputated.
We catch up with her and her family and see how their lives have changed.
Over a year ago both of the Cross’s daughters, Milly and Lydia, contracted two different types of the deadly disease meningitis.
They both pulled through, but life for Lydia would never be the same again.
We first brought you Lydia’s story six months ago. Late one Friday night in 2003 she became ill with a temperature of 105 degrees.
Seeing their child
so ill, Lydia’s parents took her to their local doctor that weekend.
“She was hallucinating and believed that spiders were crawling over her skin,” remembers Tony.
At the hospital.
They took her to their local hospital, in Chippenham. She was seen by doctors from the out of hours GP service.
On Sunday she was worse so they took her back. A different GP saw Lydia and said she just had an ear infection.
On Monday Lydia was finally admitted to hospital. She had meningitis and her life now hung in the balance.
Meningitis and septicaemia.
Meningitis is an inflammation of the tissues that cover the brain and spinal cord.
It can be caused by either a viral or bacterial infection.
The bacteria that can cause meningitis live naturally in the throats or noses of about one in ten people, without causing them any illness.
It’s even higher among young people – almost one in four carry the deadly germs.
In a few people, however, the bacteria manage to evade the body’s immune defences.
They manage to get through the lining of the nose and throat and find their way into the bloodstream.
Once there, the germs can cause meningococcal meningitis.
The same bacteria can also cause septicaemia, a type of blood poisoning. Septicaemia often accompanies meningitis, and either can be fatal.
Septicaemia can also reduce the amount of blood reaching the body’s vital organs.
Lydia suffered full organ failure and was put on drugs to keep her lungs, heart and kidneys functioning.
She managed to survive the initial trauma, but the septicaemia had also struck other parts of her body.
Her legs were left so badly damaged by the septicaemia that she had to have them amputated just below the knee during a three-hour operation.
A year on.
A year on, we catch up with Lydia on her way to pre-school. The progress she’s made is astonishing.
She is now using her new artificial legs to walk with, but she hasn’t stopped there.
Lydia has also taken to two wheels to get around. Riding a bike was hard to master but now she’s quite comfortable negotiating the roads around her home.
“It’s good to see her so happy and enjoying herself – at one point we didn’t think she’d get there,” says Tony.
Like most little girls she also loves horses. Her parents have taken her horse-riding, and Lydia is thrilled by her time in the saddle.
“I don’t know how she manages,” admits Jodie. “It must be like walking on stilts and that’s what it’s going to be like for the rest of her life.”
At the moment the family have to fund-raise to pay for Lydia’s legs.
She uses specialist artificial limbs which are made for her by a company in Dorset.