Rickie and Carly Hicks’ lives changed for ever when their baby daughter contracted a life-threatening strain of meningitis. During a family day out six-month-old Lily, a happy and healthy baby, suddenly fell ill with a high temperature, shivering and laboured breathing.

As a precaution, the couple took her to the A&E department of Watford General Hospital, where Lily’s condition deteriorated further. However, the Hicks were sent home at 2.30am after being reassured that chickenpox was the likely cause.

Terrified and frantic, Rickie and Carly rushed tiny Lily to Barnet A&E just hours later, as she began drifting in and out of sleep and an angry purple rash started to spread rapidly across her body. The baby was left fighting for her life in intensive care – deadly meningococcal septicaemia was diagnosed.

Fighting for her life
Quick-thinking Barnet hospital staff saved Lily’s life by immediately giving her a penicillin injection on arrival, after which a team of eight doctors and nurses administered medication and treatment before she was transferred by the Children’s Acute Transport Service to Great Ormond Street Hospital’s intensive care unit.

Lily fought for her life for five days, heavily sedated, a ventilator machine breathing for her, during which time Rickie and Carly were faced with the horror of possibly losing their beautiful baby girl.

“No matter how strong you think you are, nobody can prepare you for a specialist doctor telling you that your baby girl might die,” said Carly.

She described the five days when Lily was in intensive care as “the longest five days of our lives” – during which time, the couple lost all sense of reality.

Cry of hope
On the fifth day, Lily began to cry as she came round and started breathing for herself – a sign of hope after five days of fear.

“There’s no doubt how close Lily came to losing her life,” says Carly. “We’re over the moon that against all the odds, Lily has made a full recovery and with no serious consequences from this horrible infection. We count our blessings every day.”

“If it wasn’t for the special care from the fantastic doctors and nurses, Lily wouldn’t be here today. It’s thanks to the amazing ambulance team, the Children’s Acute Transport Service, Barnet A&E and Great Ormond Street Hospital that this story has a happy ending.”