Harpenden dad’s Great Ormond Street fundraising campaign in memory of tragic toddler
PUBLISHED: 12:00 04 February 2016
The heart-breaking death of a toddler from sepsis has prompted thousands of pounds to be donated in his memory, to boost research and treatment at Great Ormond Street Hospital.
Stephen Reader, of Harpenden, has paid tribute to his two-year-old son Tyler, who died in early November last year, just several days after complaining of a sore throat.
The grieving father has spoken to the Herts Advertiser about his tragic loss in a bid to raise awareness of the potentially life-threatening condition which is triggered by an infection and causes the body’s immune system to go into overdrive.
He said that on November 2, Tyler started feeling ill and when the toddler was seen by a GP the next day, the doctor recommended paracetamol and keeping him hydrated, as his sore throat was the result of a viral infection and antibiotics would not be prescribed in that situation.
But, Tyler’s condition deteriorated further throughout the week, and he suffered high temperatures.
Stephen, who is separated from the boy’s mother, Lisa, with whom he shared custody of Tyler, said: “His temperature was in the mid-39s; it was scary. He was struggling to speak and eat, and was very lethargic, but couldn’t sleep.”
At one stage he appeared to ‘perk up’ but while he was napping, it was noticed that the skin on his face suddenly turned ‘very gray’ and his temperature plummeted.
Tyler said he felt very hot, “but he was freezing to touch”.
The NHS 111 service called an ambulance, and Stephen said that before his boy was transported by paramedics to Luton & Dunstable Hospital, Tyler “leant over to his little sister, Pixie, and said ‘goodbye’.”
Once at the hospital, where the toddler was diagnosed with a group A streptococcus infection, “he went downhill” and was put into a medically-induced coma as doctors tried to save him. But he had several heart attacks.
Specialists from Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) then transferred Tyler to the London based hospital for further treatment, with doctors suggesting a heart and lung bypass.
But Tyler suffered further heart attacks. Stephen said: “He had six heart attacks altogether, in the space of about eight hours.”
An infection in his lungs gave him septicaemia, and Tyler died at 11.23pm on November 6.
Stephen said: “We’re devastated. I feel completely sad and empty. Tyler was a huge part of my life and he’s gone.”
One of the toddler’s favourite places to visit in Harpenden was the duck pond on the common.
A fundraising campaign recently launched in Tyler’s memory to help GOSH has already had about £8,400 donated by well-wishers, with one generous donor giving £1,000.
People have left poignant messages on the justgiving charity page online, describing Tyler as a “fabulous little man” who was a “happy, smiley boy”.
In the UK around 37,000 people die each year as a result of sepsis.
Stephen said symptoms to be alert for include having mottled or gray or bluish skin, being abnormally cold to the touch, having a rash which does not fade, breathing rapidly, being difficult to wake, or lethargic, or having a seizure.
He said: “If you are worried or see any of these symptoms, seek medical help and say you are concerned about sepsis.”
Fundraising events for GOSH are also being organised in the district, including at the Golden Lion pub in London Colney, which is hosting a family fun day at midday on Sunday, March 27, and a charity ball at Luton Hoo in November.
To donate, click here.