A teenager has lost his leg and part of his thumb after his parents mistook his initial meningitis symptoms for food poisoning from fried chicken.
After enjoying a bucket of fried chicken on August 4 last year, Mitchell Etherton, 14, started being violently sick throughout the night.
Initially dismissing his symptoms as food poisoning, Mitchell’s father was shocked when he awoke to find his son’s legs had changed colour and were covered in a rash.
Mitchell was rushed to hospital where doctor’s suspected he had meningococcal septicaemia, a form of meningitis, and was placed into an induced coma.
As a result of the blood poisoning spreading around his body, Mitchell, from Canvey Island, Essex, needed his left leg and left thumb amputated.
Now, as Mitchell battles to save his right leg, his mother, Sharon Sigston, is sharing his story in order to raise awareness for the unconventional signs of meningitis.
Sharon, 45, said: “Mitchell was at his father’s house where he had a fried chicken takeaway and it was a short time after that when he started to be sick, his dad just assumed it was food poisoning from a dodgy bit of chicken.
“It wasn’t until the next morning when he saw that Mitchell’s legs were covered in a rash and had started to go purple, and he was saying that they hurt, that he realised it was something far more sinister.
“Luckily the paramedics were very quick and got him to the local hospital where he was put into an induced coma.
“And despite him losing his limbs, we’re just glad he’s with us today – considering we were told he wouldn’t survive the first 24 hours.
“But his journey is far from over, and we want to raise awareness for how easily something that seems as mundane as food poisoning can be something deadly.”
After being admitted to hospital with meningococcal septicaemia, Mitchell was put into an induced coma for five days to stop any further damage happening.
However, when he woke up on 11 August, he faced the devastating news that he would lose both his left leg on the 18 August and later, part of his left thumb on the 25.
Sharon, who is now her son’s full-time carer, said: “A few days after he had come out of the coma, a specialist sat down with Mitchell and explained to him what was going to happen.
“His leg was completely black and his toes had shrivelled up – he knew that it was dead and had to be amputated.
“He is a very sporty boy and loved football, and his main concern was that he wouldn’t be able to play again – but he took it all in his stride.
“Like all of us, he was more concerned about getting better, whatever it took.
“With his thumb, he had part of it amputated and stitched into his groin which allowed the majority of it to grow back – so now he has part of his thumb.
“He received his prosthetic in December last year and has since been learning to walk on it, and last month he even started playing football again for his old team.”
But despite his life seeming as though it was returning to normal, Mitchell has since been suffering with complications to his right leg due to the lasting effects of septicaemia.
Sharon said: “Unfortunately since this all happened, his right leg has become damaged again and he had to have his whole leg skin grafted last September.
“We didn’t know what lasting damage the septicaemia had caused until last week – when he has a further surgery on his right foot and is now in a cast.
“He will have to have further operations if the operation to improve the strength of his ankle bone was unsuccessful.
“He’s doing amazingly well and is in great spirits still regardless of all of this, and we know he’ll continue fighting!”
To donate towards Mitchell’s ongoing healthcare, visit: https://www.gofundme.com/fund-for-mitchell