Following legal support from Hudgell Solicitors, Gaynor McConnell has finally found answers as to how and why her baby boy Cayden died of meningitis aged just one year old, with Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust admitting that had it not been for its errors, Cayden could still be alive today.
Gaynor has now launched her own awareness website – bravely sharing Cayden’s Story in a bid to prevent other families suffering the same devastating loss, and as detailed below, she is already having a positive impact.
A mum who lost her baby boy to meningitis has launched her own awareness campaign in a bid to help other parents identify symptoms early – urging them to trust their instincts and demand appropriate tests from doctors if they have concerns.
One-year-old Cayden McConnell was constantly ill throughout his short life, suffering from repeated infections and flu-like colds, so much so that his mother Gaynor was convinced something more serious was wrong.
Gaynor was repeatedly told by doctors that there were no major concerns over Cayden’s health, despite being born with spina bifida (a fault in the development of the spinal cord which leaves a gap or split in the spine).
Having suffered a first bout of meningitis aged four months, an MRI scan on Cayden showed an open passage running from the base of his spine to a small lump on his skin. This was a warning sign missed by doctors that Cayden had a dermoid tumour which needed removing.
Instead, no action was taken, and seven months later, Cayden became seriously ill from meningitis a second time, which he was unable to overcome, dying in his mother’s arms.
Campaign aims to help people spot meningitis early
Now, Gaynor hopes that by sharing the story of Cayden’s death, the events leading to it and how doctors missed opportunities to save him, she can help other parents to spot dangers, and demand more answers and tests when they have concerns.
She said: “There isn’t a day in my life that I don’t think about Cayden and miss him with all of my heart, and losing my beautiful boy has made me determined to fight for better care for young children, and for their parents to be better informed as to not only the symptoms and dangers, but also with regard to how they should challenge and question the care they receive should they have any concerns.
“Cayden’s life was one needlessly lost. I can’t save Cayden now, but I can help save others by highlighting Cayden’s tragic story, and my experience of it, to help prevent more parents going through the same devastating tragedies.”
Cayden’s Story already having a positive, life-saving impact
Having established her own Facebook page, ‘Cayden’s Story’ less than a fortnight ago, Gaynor has already had many messages from other parents praising her approach and sharing their own stories of loss.
One mum has also contacted her publicly on the page to say she took her daughter to hospital only after reading Gaynor’s advice, with an early diagnosis of meningitis resulting, and the mother saying it had ‘saved her little girls life’.
“It was fantastic to see that within two weeks of starting this campaign, the messages I have been sharing have led to a mum taking that extra step and going to hospital for checks,” said Gaynor.
“Her message to me saying I’d saved her little girl’s life made me very emotional, and it has given me the added incentive and encouragement to push on what I am doing and make a difference. It is so important.
“I said when I started that if I saved one young life, it would be worth the effort. Now I feel we could do so much more and I have now launched a website too.”
Gaynor’s key meningitis messages
Gaynor has four key messages for other parents as part of her campaign, which focusses on encouraging parents to trust their instincts, even in the face of reassurances from doctors, if they fear something is wrong.
- Don’t wait for a rash
- Never take no for an answer
- Be aware of the symptoms and strains of meningitis
- Trust your parental instincts
She added: “These are the four lessons I have learned. It is a common misconception that the appearance of a rash is the time to act, but this is wrong and could cost lives. By the time Cayden’s rash appeared it was too late, he become unresponsive in a matter of minutes and by then I’d lost my beautiful boy.
“My message is don’t wait for a rash, if your child is unwell and displaying any symptoms relating to meningitis, act immediately and demand answers.
“In terms of never taking no for an answer, given what happened to Cayden, this is probably the strongest message I want to get across to other parents.
“I’d repeatedly asked doctors if there was something more serious wrong as he kept getting ill and picking up colds and infections, and despite him having the lump on his spine at birth I was told there was nothing to worry about.
“I truly believe a parent’s instinct should never be dismissed. I always had the fear in my mind that something was being missed, but didn’t feel able to question doctors and medical professionals because they are the ones who are trained to look after people and as patients, we put our complete faith and trust in them.
“Hopefully, by sharing my story, other parents with concerns over the medical care their children are receiving will not only ask the same questions I did, but see the need to more forceful and demanding when they think something in not right.
“A parent knows best – sometimes better than a doctor – and I have discovered this in the most devastating of circumstances.”
As a result of Cayden’s death, Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust admitted the standard of care provided was below that expected and further admitted that but for its breach of duty of care, the second episode of meningitis, which ultimately proved fatal for Cayden, would have been prevented.
- Follow Gaynor’s Facebook page, Cayden’s Story, at https://www.facebook.com/CaydensStory/
- Visit the Cayden’s Story website at www.caydensstory.org.uk