This is the heartwarming story of how a brave nine-year-old Leighton lad’s battle with meningitis has brought not only his whole family closer together, but also the community.
Kye Vincent of Vandyke Road was diagnosed with meningococcal septicaemia C on Mother’s Day last year, when his little sister Layla was only six days old.
He was put in an induced coma and lost both legs at the knee and most of both hands. But he’s already playing football on his prosthetic limbs and little Layla – desperately trying to emulate her big brother – is starting to walk, also on her knees.
Their mum Cheryl, 36, said: “She adores him and keeps trying to copy him. They’re very close.”
There’s a disco at Brooklands Hall at 7.30pm on Saturday (May 6) which is raising money for The Meningitis Now Charity and to build him a therapy room.
“It’ll be his space,” Cheryl said. “People have been absolutely amazing. And it’s not only brought our family and friends together, it’s united the whole community.”
Cheryl describes her bright-as-a-button son as “strong-willed”. She added: “He was always a defiant little boy, nothing could beat him. He just gets on with things.” And he’s obviously inherited his mother’s feisty fighting spirit.
Cheryl dialled 999 as soon as she saw four sinister bruises on her son’s body.
She describes what happened to Kye as “every mother’s worst nightmare, you wouldn’t wish it on your worst enemy.”
The Mary Bassett Lower School pupil was initially admitted to the L&D but was soon transferred to the intensive care unit at St Mary’s in London. Cheryl said: “They cut down both sides of his arms to get the blood flowing.
“They told me the first 90 hours were critical – that’s four days! The consultant sat with me in the parents’ room and said she was worried about his hands and feet – they were bright purple.
“He was sedated, rigged up to machine. I watched them go from brown to burgundy to black. For four days I didn’t eat or sleep. I just drank coffee and got very emotional.
“My baby was only six days old, she was being looked after by my partner Luke’s parents.
“But on the fourth day I had to go home to get his red book, to prove he’d been vaccinated for meningitis C.
“And I thought ‘my baby needs me’. So I had two bowls of bolognese and took Layla back to the hospital with me. She kept me going after that.”
And what a tough time lay ahead – Cheryl had to tell her son his legs would have to be amputated while he begged: “Don’t let them take my legs, Mummy, please don’t let them take my legs.”
She recalled: “He wouldn’t eat, he couldn’t move. But when he woke up from the anaesthetic he said: ‘I can move much better, Mummy! Can I have something to eat?’ It was such a relief that we let him have the chicken nuggets he wanted.”
But it wasn’t the end of their agony: Kye needed more amputations.
“He wouldn’t look at his hands,” Cheryl said. “Then one morning I took one of his in mine and kissed it. I said: ‘You know you’re going to lose them, you’re not going to have your own hands any more. So look at them.’ And that seemed to help.”
Kye has a powered wheelchair and got his first pair of blades in August.
“There’s no stopping him now,” Cheryl smiled. “Although he does suffer from tired legs when he’s had them on a while.
“We’re all so very proud of him. We take each day as it comes. We know life can change within the blink of an eye – we lost Luke’s mum very suddenly and tragically two weeks before Kye came out of hospital. She had a blood clot on the brain as a result of a stroke.
“Everything that’s happened has made me a lot stronger, but a lot more cautious. I panic now if either of them has a temperature.”
Kye has many more operations to come. He also goes to Great Ormond Street Hospital for immunology testing to discover why he succumbed to the disease when he had been vaccinated for meningitis C as a baby. He will also be on lifelong antibiotics.
l To help Kye make the most of his life visit https://www.gofundme.com/superherokye
l To buy tickets for The Cheesy Disco! on May 6, call Heather Gill on 01525 370024 or Mary Bassett Lower School.