A mother has released images of her eight-year-old son in intensive care after he was rushed to hospital with flu, in a bid to warn other parents about the dangers of the common virus.
Janine Riley, from Wadebridge in Cornwall, spoke of how her son, Henry, went from being an active child who was “fit and healthy” to “struggling to breathe” or walk along a corridor.
The boy was initially diagnosed with flu after he returned home from rugby practice complaining of a stomach ache.
But his condition rapidly worsened, leaving him struggling to breathe and burning up.
An ambulance rushed him to hospital where he was diagnosed with flu – but his condition was so bad that he was transferred to Bristol paediatric intensive care unit and placed on a ventilator to help with his breathing.
But Mrs Riley, 44, decided to share pictures of her son in order to warn other parents how the common illness can develop to dangerous levels.
She said: “He was fine one day, playing rugby, came home with a tummy ache. We put him to bed with paracetamol and ibuprofen.
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“The next day he was really poorly, very hot, struggled breathing, so we called an ambulance and within a few minutes he had been rushed to hospital.
“A few minutes more in A&E and he was taken theatre and put to sleep and he was taken to intensive care.
“It was really scary. They couldn’t look after him in our hospital so they transferred him to Bristol paediatric intensive care unit, where he was on a ventilator for three days.
“But he was really lucky and did recover really well, enough to come back to our local hospital where he stayed for another two weeks.
“We had lots of physiotherapy, getting him to breathe again. He couldn’t stand up, he couldn’t walk.
“He’d gone in a few days from being a fit, healthy eight-year-old boy to not being able to walk down the corridor, it was really sad.”
Public Health England (PHE) is increasing the number of children being given a nasal spray to protect from the virus.
All schoolchildren in England are currently eligible for a free flu vaccination on the NHS.
Dr Julie Yates, head of screening and immunisation at Public Health England South West, said flu can be “life-threatening”.
Dr Yates said: “We are so pleased that Year 6 children are now eligible for the flu vaccine which means that all children in primary school can now have this vaccination at school.
“Flu is a really nasty bug and it is not like having a cold. It can have serious complications and can be life threatening. At the very least it can knock you off your feet for days.
“This means absence from school for children and time off work for parents, not to mention the possibility of spreading the bug in families especially in the older more vulnerable community.”