Baby dies hours after first giggle

Evan Summerfield died of meningitis at 4 months.
Evan Summerfield died of meningitis at 4 months. 

At just four months old Evan Summerfield was busy discovering the world.

The baby boy had just learnt to take his own dummy out and figured out how to laugh. But just hours after delighting his family with his first giggle last month, the British baby died from meningococcal disease.

"It's not right. I should have gone first before my grandson."
"It's not right. I should have gone first before my grandson." 

His parents are now struggling to understand how their previously healthy son could have become so unwell so quickly.

Evan had a rash from his head to his bellybutton when he woke from a nap on March 25. His great-grandmother immediately did the "glass test" to see whether the rash faded under pressure. 

When the rash didn't fade the little boy was rushed to Derriford Hospital, Plymouth, with suspected meningitis. Despite the efforts of "amazing" medical staff he died just hours later from meningococcal septicaemia.

Evan's grandmother Sarah Summerfield said Evan initially came down with a high temperature while staying with his great-grandparents.

"They took him to the doctors and that was the first and last time he laughed. It's like he left it for us," Ms Summerfield said.

"The doctor said he had a virus and gave him ... Nurofen, and said if it gets worse he should come straight back."


But when the four-month-old later woke with from a nap with the rash the seriousness of his condition became more obvious.

"I just remember him having doctors and nurses all around him. But he was pronounced dead at 10.15am," Evan's grandmother said.

"I'm 38 and I never thought I would have to sort out a funeral, never mind for my 17-year-old daughter having to organise one for her four-month-old son.

"It's not right. I should have gone first before my grandson.

"He was so loved by everyone around him and everyone who saw him would comment on his gorgeous big, blue eyes. He was such a content baby.

"He had just learnt a new trick of taking his dummy out, and he loved the Simpsons, Iggle Piggle and 64 Zoo Lane - and even used to watch MASH with his great grandad.

"Everyone said what a brilliant mother Shannon was and Kris was a brilliant father."

Tragically Evan's death occurred just one week before the UK government announced it would become the first country worldwide to vaccinate babies against deadly meningococcal B as part of their publicly funded routine immunisation schedule.

The announcement came over one year after the Bexsero vaccine was recommended by the Joint Vaccine Committee on Vaccine and Immunisation for use in the UK's childhood immunisation schedule.

Similar applications to add the Bexsero vaccine to the Australian Immunisation Schedule have been unsuccessful.

In August 2014 the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee rejected an application for the vaccine to be publicly funded meaning parents wanting to safeguard their baby against the disease face a $500 bill. 

Bexsero has been available for purchase privately in Australia since March 5, 2014, but unlike the vaccine for meningococcal C, is not funded through the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme. At about $125 per injection - with babies requiring four injections before they are 12 months old - it is simply financially out of reach for many families.