Toddler's life-death battle teaches parents important lesson about sepsis

Toddler's life-death battle teaches parents important lesson about sepsis

How much do you know about sepsis and septicaemia?

Parents of 17-month-old Loki Whiteside thought that he just had the common cold. After all, he was showing all its classic signs. But his “cold” turned out to be potentially deadly sepsis. And this was even though he didn’t have common septicemia symptoms in toddlers. 

It all started a few weeks back when Loki was busy playing with his cousins. That’s when his mum Naomi noticed that he was running a high temperature, and it slowly rose through the day. 

Suspecting that her tiny tot was suffering from a cold, she rushed him to a doctor. But the doctor noticed that Loki had a few of the common septicemia symptoms in toddlers and asked Naomi to admit him to a local hospital.  

“The doctor recognised it as potentially septicaemia and rushed us straight to hospital in an ambulance,” Naomi told Birmingham Mail. “It was all go from there. It happened so quickly. One minute he was playing with his cousins, running round the house, the next minute he was in intensive care being treated for septic shock,” she added.

It was after his condition was diagnosed that his situation went from bad to worse. 

Loki had one of the common septicemia symptoms in toddlers, but his parents missed it

The medics at the Birmingham Children’s Hospital, UK, immediately identified Loki as having potentially deadly sepsis

In septic shock, which is a life-threatening condition, the blood pressure drops, decreasing the blood flow to various parts of the organs and they suddenly stop working. It can cause sepsis, which is a complication caused when the body reacts to an infection and damages its own tissues and organs. 

So when Loki was diagnosed with septicaemia, his limbs were already affected with shocking speed. The doctors tried to save his limbs, but couldn’t. They had to amputate his right leg.  

His amputation was a devastating blow to the child and his parents

This not only broke the toddler’s confidence, but also his parents’ hearts.  

septicemia symptoms in toddlers

“It has been very stressful and so tiring because Loki needs 24/7 care and he doesn’t sleep through the night,” says mum Naomi. | Image courtesy: Screengrab/BPM Media

Speaking to the daily about her ordeal, Naomi said, “Before hospital, Loki was such an active happy boy who was practically always smiling. For the first two weeks in intensive care Rob and I didn’t see Loki smile, it was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to face.” 

She also explained his medical condition: “Septicaemia attacks the blood system and affects the circulation, meaning it’s not taking enough oxygen in the blood so the body effectively starts to get rid of the limbs that are less important.”

“But it could have been so much worse, he could be fighting for his life now,” she said, adding that she was thankful to the hospital for their help.

Loki is feeling better now, say his parents 

Sharing more details about his health, Naomi said, “At one point, they thought he would have to lose his fingertips too but fortunately they were able to save them. Nearly three weeks later we got our first cheeky smile back of the Loki we all know.”

Nearly six weeks on, Loki is still in the burns unit of the hospital. However, he is in a much better state. This is good news, especially for Naomi who is expecting her second baby in June. 

“It has been very stressful and so tiring because Loki needs 24/7 care and he doesn’t sleep through the night,” said Naomi.

“He has skin damage and lots of scarring. His muscles are quite weak too as he was paralysed for the first week so the doctors could do as much as possible to treat him. But the staff here have been brilliant,” she said.

“We’ve had a little old lady bring in her dog to see us, there’s been music time and lots of play times working to make it easier for Loki and us,” she added. 

Loki’s horrific case is a constant reminder of why parents need to be vigilant with kids at all times. Septicaemia, like many other life-threatening conditions, begins with common cold symptoms. But you can still identify it if you spot the following septicemia symptoms in toddlers. 

15 Common septicemia symptoms in toddlers

You may know that septicemia or blood poisoning can affect organs inside the body. This happens after the body gets infected. Instead of fighting off the bacteria, the immune system allows the bacteria to invade the organs. 

According to WebMD, typically you may notice the following septicemia symptoms in toddlers as well as adults.

  • Fever, but the body temperature may be normal or low
  • Chills and shaking and rapid breathing
  • Rapid heartbeat 

Symptoms of severe sepsis or septic shock include the following:

  • Confusion
  • Agitation
  • Disorientation
  • Fast respiratory rate
  • Dizziness
  • Decreased urination
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Cold and pale skin
  • Diarrhoea
  • Discoloration of lips, they may turn blue
  • Rashes 
  • Chronic joint pain 

If you notice any of these septicemia symptoms in toddlers, you must rush your child to the doctor. Remember to not be shy in asking your doctor about the specifics of their diagnosis.

You can also get a second opinion from another doctor just to make sure that nothing is misdiagnosed. After all, your child’s health and safety is at stake. 


Sources: The Sun, Birmingham Mail, Metro

Also read:Child dies of sepsis after being misdiagnosed by emergency services

(All images courtesy: BPM Media/ screengrabs)

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Written by

Deepshikha Punj

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