Little Mia Wilkinson is the picture of sweetness. She’s just like any other bright, bubbly six-year-old but with a very scary story to tell.

Two years ago Mia very suddenly and unexpectedly contacted sepsis, an infection that nearly took her life.

Now Queensland Health is urging all parents to remember Mia’s story and know the warning signs of sepsis. This deadly disease impacts more children than you probably think and it’s up to us to ensure we are educated on what to watch out for.

Mia’s battle with sepsis

Mia’s story begins on Friday 13 October 2017 when she complained of a sore belly. She had vomiting and diarrhoea through the night so Mia’s mum, Amy, took her to the doctor in the morning. She was diagnosed with gastro.

Over the coming days, Mia didn’t improve. She was incoherent, disorientated, non-responsive. She was also complaining of her legs being very sore. Her mum took her straight to the ER where she was diagnosed with Influenza B and Viral Myositis and sent home to rest.

‘Cheeky and healthy to critically ill, in intensive care and on life support’ 

On Sunday afternoon when Mia developed a light purple rash on her legs. It was then that Mia’s mum knew it wasn’t just influenza. They returned to the hospital where Mia continued to go downhill. She was placed on life support and her parents watched by in horror as their little girl’s organs started to fail. Her heart stopped. Then her lungs. Her kidneys were failing and her legs and arms continued to get darker and darker.

But Mia pulled through. And, six days after being placed on life support, she started to breathe on her own again. She survived, but the damage to her hands and feet were too much. Mia had her arms amputated below the elbow and her legs amputated below the knee.

sepsis symptoms Mia Wilkinson
Images via Movement for Mia

The official diagnosis for Mia was sepsis, which happens when bacteria gets into the bloodstream – even through a simple wound – and causes a major immune response that can lead to tissue damage, organ failure, and death.

As Amy explains, “[Mia] was suffering from Sepsis, her body’s immune response to Influenza A, Influenza B, Respiratory Syncytial Virus and an invasive Streptococcal A bacterial infection.”

Sepsis facts and figures

Mia is only one of the 500 children who are struck down with sepsis every single year in Australia. Last year 20,000 people were treated with this condition. Early treatment with antibiotics is usually strong enough to treat sepsis but early intervention and diagnosis are key.

It seems Queenslanders are especially at risk for sepsis, possibly due to the tropical climate which can be a breeding ground for bacteria. According to Queensland Health, last year most cases of sepsis came from Metro North, Metro South, and the Gold Coast.

Trust Your Instincts Campaign

The alarming statistics and Mia’s brave battle have prompted Queensland Health to launch its first public initiative, the Trust Your Instincts campaign, to ensure parents are aware of the sepsis symptoms.

Some of the sepsis symptoms include:

  • fever and shivering
  • convulsions
  • rapid breathing
  • a rash or discoloured skin (pale or bluish)
  • confusion

If your child is experiencing any of these, don’t wait and see. Mia’s battle with sepsis is proof that this infection can go from zero to deadly alarmingly quickly. And, remember, if you’re not happy with the doctor’s diagnosis, you can use Ryan’s Rule to ensure your child is adequately diagnosed.

Mia’s parents, Amy and Peter, are still in shock at just how quickly sepsis nearly stole their little girl away.

On the Movement for Mia website, Amy writes,

Our lovely girl suddenly went from perfectly happy, active, cheeky and healthy to critically ill, in intensive care and on life support.”

But, thankfully, Mia’s bubbly, cheeky personality lives on. She has learned how to master her wheelchair and has been fitted for prosthetic “mermaid” legs.

“[Mia] has shown such strength, bravery, adaptability and patience. She inspires us every day to focus on the positives, have a can-do attitude and enjoy life. Nothing will hold her back.”

To follow Mia’s story visit Movement for Mia. For more information on sepsis symptoms and what to watch for, visit Kidshealth.

Author

Born and raised in Canada, Jenna now lives in Far North Queensland with her tribe. When the mum-of-three is not writing, you can find her floating in the pool, watching princess movies, frolicking on the beach, bouncing her baby to sleep or nagging her older kids to put on their pants.

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