Southsea mum recalls the day her two-year-old son nearly died from meningitis

A NURSE took one look at him, picked him up, looked me in the eyes and said “Run with me”.

Thursday, 4th April 2019, 2:00 pm
Updated Thursday, 4th April 2019, 2:02 pm
Travis in QA

That was the moment Natalie Wilson knew her two-year-old son Travis Atkins was dicing with death and spent the next four hours praying he would make it while doctors at Queen Alexandra Hospital worked to save his life.

Just a few hours earlier she had called 111 worried Travis had meningitis and said the caller told her it would be four hours before she received a call back. 

‘I put the phone down and someone rang me straight back and told me to ring an ambulance. When the paramedics arrived there were purple marks all over him.

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Natalie Wilson from Portsmouth with her son Travis Atkins, five Picture: Ian Hargreaves (310319-6)

‘We got to the hospital and I carried Travis on to the children's ward. A nurse followed behind me as I laid Travis on the bed. She took one look at him, picked him up, looked me in the eyes and said, "Run with me".’

Four years later Natalie from Southsea says she remembers the day like it was yesterday and is ‘beyond thankful’ her son Travis, now five, has no memory of the trauma.

The 25-year-old from Southsea said: ‘It was the worst day of my life. I thought maybe it was just a 24 hour sick bug but then he was sick again. His hands and his feet were cold.’

Once Natalie got Travis to the hospital, he was taken straight to the children’s ward.

Travis Atkins in hospital aged two

She said: ‘When the nurse told me to run with her we went into a room with 10 doctors and they put him on fluids and antibiotics and I had to wait outside for four hours.

‘She told us that Travis would be lucky to pull through these 48 hours and if we had waited the four hours he wouldn't be here now.

‘They explained that Travis started struggling to breathe and that his lungs were filling up with fluid.  I went in and he didn't look like my baby. He was swollen, covered in marks with tubes everywhere.’

Travis was taken to Southampton General Hospital where he stayed for two weeks before returning to QA.

Natalie said: ‘When we arrived back at the hospital all the doctors who had worked on Travis came in to see him. They said they didn't think he was going to make it and that they had rung Southampton Hospital every day to see how he was.’

Travis was left with a developmental disorder and Natalie says she is scared for his life everyday.

She added: ‘Although he likes what most five-year-olds like to do, his speech is behind for his age and will only get better ever so slightly.

‘He doesn't walk how he used to and has problems with his knees. He has come such a long way but I know that these next years of his life are going to be hard.

‘For me I worry every day that he will be unwell again.’

Now Natalie is backing charity Meningitis Now which is aiming raise awareness of symptoms and money to fund research through its Walk This Way for Meningitis Campaign and Marathon Month challenge.

People are being encourage to sign up to walk 26.2 miles during April and raise cash for the charity.

Community fundraiser Jo Wilson said: ‘This is a brilliant way to raise money for a great cause as well as getting out into the fresh air and doing a bit of healthy exercise.

‘And what better reward do you need at the end of your walks than knowing all the money you’ve raised will be going to supporting people who live with the impact of meningitis.’

Natalie added: ‘I hope people do get involved so more know about the symptoms of meningitis and help to raise money for charity’s vital work.’

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Symptoms of meningitis, septicaemia and meningococcal disease include:

a high temperature

cold hands and feet



breathing quickly

muscle and joint pain

pale, mottled or blotchy skin

spots or a rash


a stiff neck

a dislike of bright lights

being very sleepy or difficult to wake

fits (seizures)

Babies may also:

refuse feeds

be irritable

have a high-pitched cry

have a stiff body or be floppy or unresponsive

have a bulging soft spot on the top of their head

Someone with meningitis, septicaemia or meningococcal disease can get a lot worse very quickly.

Call 999 for an ambulance or go to your nearest A&E if you think you or your child might be seriously ill.

Call NHS 111 or your GP surgery for advice if you're not sure if it's anything serious.