Battling baby survives despite the odds

BATTLING baby Thomas Buggs was not only born prematurely – he has already had to beat off a severe bout of meningitis. But the baby has shown his fighting spirit, and has recently been allowed home for the first time since he was born five months ago.

BATTLING baby Thomas Buggs was not only born prematurely – he has already had to beat off a severe bout of meningitis.

But the baby has shown his fighting spirit, and has recently been allowed home for the first time since he was born five months ago.

Thomas, now weighing in at 9lb 12oz, came into the world 12 weeks prematurely on May 23 and has faced a long, hard struggle for survival.

The tiny tot spent his first weeks hooked up to tubes and protected inside an incubator as hospital staff at Ipswich hospital worked round the clock to keep him alive.

He was delivered by caesarean section after his mother Debbie Buggs, of Paradise Place, Leiston developed pre-eclampsia.

He weighed just 2lb 2oz. His head circumference was 25cm and his length was 33.8cm.

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Shortly after he was managing to bottle-feed for the first time, Debbie and husband Patrick were told the devastating news that he had been taken severely ill.

He was too sick for doctors to risk a lumber puncture to find out exactly what he had contracted, but luckily he was given a cocktail of drugs including what would be prescribed for meningitis.

At first he did not appear to respond to his intensive treatment, including being put on a ventilator, and it was touch and go whether he would pull through.

But he finally managed to fight off the bacterial meningitis after being placed in a special oscillating ventilator.

Proud parents Patrick and Debbie were finally able to bring him home on October 8 – almost five months after he came into the world.

But Thomas's trials were not over. Not long after he returned home, he suffered a seizure and was rushed back to hospital. He now takes drugs to prevent him fitting.

They must now wait and see how severely his brain was damaged by the bout of meningitis. Luckily, his sight and hearing are working, but he struggles to feed and has not cried since he contracted the disease. Instead, his parents have had to detect subtle signs that he is hungry or needs attention.

The couple are full of praise for the hospital staff who cared for their son with such dedication.

"We can't thank them highly enough, especially when he had meningitis," said Mr Buggs. "They were fantastic."

Mrs Buggs, who had a caesarean, did not see her son for the first 24 hours.

"I was shocked really how tiny he was. I thought he was not going to survive when I saw him," she said.

"He was so tiny. You couldn't even touch him to start with because he was so small. He had a lung infection on the third day as well," recalled Thomas's father.

"I just couldn't believe how he survived. It was frightening when we first saw him."

Just as things appeared to be going well, and he was feeding, the meningitis struck.

"We were up there for two and a half weeks by his bedside," said Mr Buggs.

Doctors and nurses were constantly at Thomas's bedside, and were giving suction hourly to clear his system.

Mr Buggs said: "We were told he could go either way and expected the worst really. They say the miracle is down to him. They only did as much as they could, but at the end of the day, it was down to him pulling through."

They must now wait to see how Thomas develops, he explained.

"What happens in the future we don't know," he said. "He won't make a full recovery."

But each day he is responding, and health staff are continuing to support the family.

"He has been through it, I tell you," said Mr Buggs. "He's had too many problems – he didn't deserve that."

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