Support across Wigan borough for four-year-old boy battling meningitis and sepsis
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Levi Hewitt was rushed to Wigan Infirmary after feeling unwell on January 4 – the first day of the school term – and was placed in an induced coma when doctors realised he had meningitis B and sepsis.
He was transferred to Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital, where he has remained ever since, with his parents Kealey Taylor and Lee Hewitt at his bedside.
Unfortunately his condition deteriorated at the weekend and he needed a further blood transfusion, but he continues to battle the illnesses.
People across the borough have been rallying round, with video messages sent to Levi by young friends on his football team, prayers said by members of church congregations and businesses donating prizes to a raffle to raise money for the family.
Speaking on behalf of Levi’s parents, family friend Nicola Farrimond said: “Levi is still fighting today. He is still in an induced coma and on dialysis, but there are signs of improvement.”
Levi returned to lessons at St Peter’s Primary School in Leigh after the Christmas break, but when his mum Kealey picked him up at the end of the day, he felt lethargic, had a high temperature and was unwell.
She knew something was wrong, so took him to the A&E department in Wigan.
Levi’s condition deteriorated quickly, but staff immediately suspected he had meningitis and got to work treating him.
Nicola said: “The staff at Wigan were amazing. They did everything quickly.”
Levi was put into an induced coma before being taken to Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital, with staff using barriers to hide him from view as he was moved through the busy Wigan Infirmary.
The family lives in Leigh, but Levi’s parents have been by his side in Manchester, with charity Ronald McDonald House providing a room for them to stay.
Nicola said: “It’s very stressful for them. It’s heartbreaking really, but they are doing well. They are just hoping that there is more improvement. They are hoping he improves every day.”
In a terrible coincidence, Levi’s grandmother collapsed the following day and was taken to hospital, where she was also treated for meningitis.
She is now recovering and doctors have not said the cases are linked, but strong antibiotics have been given to close family members as a precaution,
Nicola described Levi as “very outgoing, bubbly and chatty” and “a clever little boy” who loves football, especially playing with Cheeky Champs in Hindley Green.
She said: “He loves the football team and they have sent him messages in a video telling him to get well. They all want him to go back to football.”
Coach Beth Jones and Louise Harrison have organised a raffle to raise money for the family and collected many donations from businesses, including an electric scooter, signed gloves from boxer Anthony Crolla, a signed picture of former Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, signed Wigan Warriors merchandise, beauty treatments, afternoon tea and an array of vouchers.
The team’s last session of 2022 was a Christmas jumper day to raise money for Hindley charity Do It For Loui, but founder Emma Aspinall has instead told Cheeky Champs to donate the £52 collected to Levi’s appeal. She also donated a swim survival course and merchandise as raffle prizes.
Prayers are being said for Levi by members of St Peter’s Church in Hindley and other churches in the borough, as everyone hopes for a speedy recovery.
Nicola said: “His parents want to thank everyone, especially Beth and Louise from Cheeky Champs, any businesses that have sent prizes and anybody who has prayed for them.”
They also thanked local businessman Chris Heaton for his support.
Levi’s family hopes everyone will continue to pray for their son and are keen to highlight the symptoms of meningitis to help other people who contract the illness.
They believe it is especially important for parents to recognise how serious it can be, at a time when the NHS is under extreme pressure and they may delay seeking medical help.
Nicola said: “They really want parents to trust their instincts. At the moment they are telling people not to go to A&E unless it’s urgent and life-threatening and you might not think a temperature is life-threatening, but don’t take any risks and go. Meningitis is very time-dependent and the quicker they give antibiotics, the better the outcome.”
Meningitis is an infection of the protective membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord and can affect anyone, but is most common in babies, young children, teenagers and young adults.
According to the NHS, symptoms can include a high temperature, being sick, headache, a rash that does not fade when a glass is rolled over it, stiff neck, dislike of bright lights, drowsiness or unresponsiveness, and seizures.
These symptoms can develop quickly, in any order and someone with meningitis may not experience all of them.
The NHS website says: “Call 999 for an ambulance or go to your nearest A&E immediately if you think you or someone you look after could have meningitis or sepsis.
“Trust your instincts and do not wait for all the symptoms to appear or until a rash develops. Someone with meningitis or sepsis can get a lot worse very quickly.
“Call NHS 111 for advice if you're not sure if it's anything serious or you think you may have been exposed to someone with meningitis.”
To buy raffle ticket or donate a prize to the appeal for Levi, search for Beth CheekyChamps Jones on Facebook.