Toddler fights back to health

Millie Bizzell 18 months and mum Vanessa at home at Stannington
Millie Bizzell 18 months and mum Vanessa at home at Stannington

A LITTLE girl from Sheffield is learning to crawl again after she was struck down by a multi-system failure of all her organs caused by an invasive Group A Streptococcus infection.

Millie Bizzell, from Stannington, was just 14 months old when she was rushed to Sheffield Children’s Hospital with pneumonia and a collapsed lung. But her breathing failed so catastrophically she had to be put on a ventilator in the intensive care unit for three weeks.

Throughout Millie’s stay in hospital, her family - mum Vanessa, dad Neil, 32, and three-year-old brother Tobias - were able to stay alongside her, thanks to the hospital’s ‘Treetop House’ funded by The Sick Children’s Trust.

“Although we live in Sheffield, due to the unstable nature of Millie’s condition we couldn’t bear to be more than a few minutes away and didn’t want to leave her bedside,” said Vanessa, 31.

“Millie’s heart stopped five times within 12 hours of admission. We were told the next morning that she had only a few hours left to live, and even if she did pull through she still had an arterial clot in her leg which was initially expected to require some level of amputation. We were also told to expect brain damage.

“All we could think about was Millie and staying as close to her as possible. Thankfully one of the nurses mentioned The Sick Children’s Trust and Treetop House - the relief of knowing we didn’t have to leave Millie was enormous.”

Vanessa said Millie’s illness was “every parent’s worst nightmare”.

“No-one realised how ill Millie was going to be. Even when we were admitted via ambulance from our GP and sent to the critical care unit, the doctors were positive about her prognosis. My husband left to collect some overnight things and check our son was okay at a friend’s house, but he was phoned by one of the nurses to tell him he needed to get back as quickly as possible.

“He arrived to find me in tears and the doctors performing the second round of CPR as Millie’s heart had stopped again.

“Treetop House became our home and refuge for those weeks. I could sleep in a real bed and be better able to stand up to the emotional demands of the next day. It was a hugely traumatic experience and I felt I had to stay strong for Millie, so I tried very hard not to be visibly upset around her.

“Having a private space at Treetop House meant I could cry when no-one else was around. That was such a great emotional outlet.”

Thankfully Millie, now 17 months, pulled through and is continuing to recover at home.

“She is slowly returning to the bright and happy child we had before this happened,” said Vanessa.

“She doesn’t need a feeding tube any more, she is gradually regaining her strength, and she has just started crawling again. We’re not sure if she will ever be able to walk unaided, as her illness has weakened her nerves and muscles, but that is a small price to pay.

“Millie is our miracle and although we know we have a long road ahead of us towards her recovery we know we couldn’t have done it all without the support of The Sick Children’s Trust.”