By Jane Nambi
7 year old Ellie-Mae Mellor has walked for the first time in her life after undergoing 76 operations to correct the damage that meningitis had done to her body.
Mellor lost both her legs and an arm after she contracted meningitis when she was a baby.
Doctors advised Mellor’s parents to organize the last funeral rites for her after she was rushed into hospital just before her first birthday.
Kelly, 34, said of her daughter, “I am so proud of my daughter. Ellie-Mae always has a smile on her face. She was so young when she got meningitis that she hadn’t learned to walk at all – so she doesn’t know any different. Ellie-Mae never grumbles or complains, she doesn’t see herself as any different to her friends, and does everything they do. When doctors told me they needed to amputate, I didn’t think twice about giving them permission. I just wanted them to do whatever it took to save my little girl. Ellie hasn’t been able to use prosthetic legs up until now, as she has been growing so quickly, but she has learned to walk on a pair of ‘rocking’ legs, which she can walk about on really easily.”
A lunchtime supervisor Kelly rushed Ellie-Mae to the University Hospital of North Staffordshire after she developed a small red bruise on her head, three days before her first birthday, in February 2007. Within hours, she was covered in a purple rush from head to toe.
Kelly said: “I could see how seriously ill Ellie-Mae was straight away, as the doctors were running around her frantically. When they said she had meningitis, I went numb. They told me I should let her have the last rites, as she probably wouldn’t last the night. We had Ellie-Mae baptised, but we refused to let her have the last rites – it felt like we would have been giving up on her. I don’t remember feeling anything. I couldn’t believe this was happening to my daughter. I couldn’t prepare myself to lose her, but by the next day, she was still fighting. Doctors did everything they could to fight the infection, but they said pretty soon they would have to amputate one of her legs and her arm. I didn’t care, as long as she was alive.”
Later on, Mellor was transferred to Birmingham Children’s Hospital in March, before being allowed home in July. Days later, she was taken back into hospital, after the bone in her remaining leg had ‘died’ – doctors amputated it.
She has since had 76 operations but still remains good at heart.