Ipswich playmates' tragic destiny

IPSWICH: Just weeks ago toddlers Rhianna Warner and Kyron Vince cuddled on the sofa but last week the pair tragically died from suspected cases of meningitis.

DISTRAUGHT mum Danielle Watchman fought back the tears as she told of her special little girl who died from suspected meningitis just a day before her toddler playmate.

Rhianna Warner died on New Year's Eve - the second Ipswich child to die from the suspected illness in just over two weeks.

Just 24 hours later a third child, Kyron Vince - a close friend of Rhianna's - died at Addenbrooke's Hospital.

He had been taken ill the previous day but their deaths are not being linked because they had not seen each other for some time.

Rhianna's mother Danielle Watchman, 22, of Damselfly Road, said: “She was the most beautiful, special little girl you could wish for.

“For a two-year-old she was so advanced - you could have a full conversation with her - she wasn't shy whatsoever.

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“She would pick up people's expressions really easily and repeat them. She had just started to use the phrase 'I love you lots'.

“We're devastated. We were looking forward to the New Year but there's nothing to celebrate now.”

Ben Warner, 24, Rhianna's father, added: “She had such a nice smile and perfect little dimples. She was a normal happy little girl who had hardly ever been ill. It's such a shock.

“Rhianna and Kyron were friends - but they hadn't seen each other for weeks - so their cases can't be linked.”

In the days leading up to her death, Rhianna developed a high temperature and appeared to be constipated.

When she started shivering, despite her chest and stomach feeling warm, her parents decided to take her to Ipswich hospital.

Mr Warner said: “Initially the staff weren't sure what was wrong. They thought she just had a high temperature.

“We were told to go home and give her antibiotics because they didn't want to do a blood test. But her condition got worse and later that morning she died.

“The hospital staff did all they could - some of them were in tears - but if they had done a blood test they could have had a better idea of her condition.”

Mr Warner urged other parents to be weary of the disease in the coming weeks.

He added: “It's a winter bug and it spreads easily. My advice to parents is to watch out for the symptoms.

“If one child's life is saved through somebody reading about Rhianna then that will be something.”

The tragedy comes less than three weeks after another suspected meningitis victim, 11-month-old Ellie Parsons, of Felixstowe Road, died on December 14.

An investigation into the recent deaths has been launched by Ipswich Hospital