Teenager Who Had Her Legs Amputated Talks About Her Ordeal

PUBLISHED: 13:58 28 July 2009 | UPDATED: 10:58 04 May 2010

Nicole Wilson

Nicole Wilson

A TEENAGER from Sutton who had to have her legs amputated after contracting meningitis has spoken about her ordeal for the first time. Nicole Wilson, aged 17, from Sutton, contracted the potentially fatal disease in June last year, while on holiday in Cyp

A TEENAGER from Sutton who had to have her legs amputated after contracting meningitis has spoken about her ordeal for the first time.

Nicole Wilson, aged 17, from Sutton, contracted the potentially fatal disease in June last year, while on holiday in Cyprus. She developed septicaemia and as well as having both legs amputated below the knee, lost parts of most of her fingers and is blind in one eye. Her kidneys were also badly damaged by the infection and she undergoes dialysis three times a week while she waits for a transplant.

Her family and friends are now desperately trying to raise the £50,000 it will cost to have state-of-the-art prosthetics custom made.

Despite everything she has been through, Nicole remains a bright, happy and talkative young woman, talking to the Ely Standard while she underwent dialysis. But she is modest too.

She said: "I have my moments. This has all been really hard and I would love to be back living my life like I used to."

Her mum, Bev Wilson, 48, said: "We are still not over it. I have been told six times that Nicole wasn't going to make it but she kept fighting and kept fighting. She is our miracle."

Mrs Wilson added: "Throughout everything Nicole's dad, Wayne, has been so strong. He has been amazing and without him I honestly doubt if Nicole would have survived. Everybody, me and my daughters, thinks he has been great."

The Nicole Wilson Trust has so far raised £20,000 which will help Nicole buy her first set of legs. However, the legs only last two to three years before they will need to be replaced and fund-raising will need to continue to cover the cost of Nicole's future needs.

Nicole said: "I would like to thank everyone who has contributed to The Nicole Wilson Trust and if anyone would like to support future events, I would be very grateful."

Upcoming events include a dance at Southery Village Hall on August 1, a cake stall in Ely on August 8 and a Policeman's Ball on October 17 at The Maltings in Ely.

For more information or updates on Nicole please contact Bev by email bwilson042@aol.com

The Wilson family's nightmare began on June 28, last year. Nicole had gone to Cyprus with her friend Sophie and Sophie's parents.

Nicole said: "One day, I woke up and felt really ill. I walked out to the pool and I was limping - I thought I must have tripped the night before and broken my foot.

"I couldn't eat anything. I went to see my friend's parents and went back to the hotel room. I didn't have a rash or a temperature, I just felt really, really ill. My friend's parents called an ambulance and I was taken to a private hospital. They thought I had a kidney infection. There was blood in my urine. They gave me antibiotics and told me to go back to the hotel.

"I stayed in that evening. I was trying to go to sleep but started being sick. I had diarrhea. I went to the bathroom and noticed all these black marks appearing on my body. They were coming up really quickly. My friend's mum called the hospital and they said to come in at 11am - if I had waited that long I wouldn't be here now. We went in straight away instead, by taxi, at 4 o'clock in the morning."

It was at this point that Nicole fell unconscious.

Mrs Wilson said: "We got a phone call on Friday evening from our friends to say that Nicole wasn't very well and was on antibiotics. I spoke to her briefly to make sure she was okay.

"Then we got a call at 4am, saying she really wasn't well. Sophie's mum, Maddie, said I should get out there and be with her, she was on a ventilator. Nicole was transferred to another hospital and Maddie felt my husband should fly out too. Sarah, a nurse who was in the holiday group, spoke to me and said it might be meningitis."

As the terrified parents and Nicole's oldest sister Stacey, 21, raced to Heathrow, they had more bad news. Another phone call from Maddie revealed that Nicole's organs had started to shut down.

Mrs Wilson said: "It was awful. Our flight was delayed and the last call we had before we got on the plane was that she had a 10 to 20 per cent chance of survival. The flight was four-and-a-half hours long. It was the absolutely the worst flight of our lives. We didn't know if our daughter would be alive when we landed."

She continued: "When we got off the plane - fell off the plane, we were so exhausted - Maddie met us and said Nicole was still alive.

"It took us half an hour to get to the hospital. We went straight up to the intensive care unit but we didn't see Nicole. She was in a side room and all the blinds were shut."

When the couple finally saw their youngest daughter, she was black from head to foot.

Mrs Wilson said: "The doctor spoke good English and told us Nicole had meningococcal septicemia. She was on a ventilator because her lungs weren't working. Her blood pressure was rock bottom and her heart was very weak. She was blown up with fluid and she was on a kidney machine.

"The doctor said 'If she survives the night, it will be a miracle'."

The couple quickly realised they would not be able to cope alone and called home. They were soon joined by 10 family members and friends, including Nicole's other sister, 19, who had been in America at the time and had to fly to Cyprus alone via Heathrow. After three weeks of living in a hotel, the family moved into a villa, just outside the capital, Nicosia.

Despite the severity of the situation, the family had to abide by the hospital's tight visiting hours.

Mrs Wilson said: "Security was very strict in the intensive care unit and the guards would escort you out at the end of visiting hours. We got to see her between 2pm and 3pm and again between 5pm and 6pm.

"The nurses said every hour she lived was good. We used to watch the clock and think to ourselves 'She's made it another hour, she's still alive'."

One week after Nicole was first rushed into hospital, the doctor told the Wilson family they had tried everything.

Mrs Wilson said: "They couldn't get her platelets up. The doctor said they had given her everything they had but there was something they wanted to try, something that had never been tried before. There was no recorded data for it and it was outside the European guidelines for treatment of meningitis. He said it would take four days to know if it had worked. If this didn't work, then..."

When the four days were up, Nicole's relieved family were told the platelets had gone up, but the family faced another ordeal.

The doctors said Nicole was showing signs of brain damage and she was sent immediately for a brain scan. However, the results showed no sign of damage, much to everyone's relief.

Then, Nicole's parents saw Nicole move her arm through her room window - her first movement in 10 days.

Mrs Wilson said: "Her dad started putting his gown and mask on and was just shouting 'Nicole, Nicole!'" before rushing into the room.

Over the next few days, Nicole slowly regained consciousness.

Nicole said: "When I came round, I kept asking where Sophie was. I thought I had had a car accident. I didn't know I had meningitis until I got back to England.

"I said 'Don't leave me, I'm coming home with you'. I got panicky and then I went into shock for three days. I didn't speak or anything. I just stared at the ceiling."

Despite these signs of recovery, Nicole was by no means out of the woods.

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