A DEVASTATED couple were told to “prepare for the worst” after their three-year-old son contracted meningitis C.

Little Euan Couttie developed septicaemia, the blood poisoning form of the disease, and heartbroken mum and dad Siobhan, 32, and Douglas Couttie, 30, were told their son might not survive the night.

The couple have now  issued a warning to other parents to be aware of the signs of meningitis after their son almost died, despite receiving the vaccine.

Doctors spent days battling to save Euan’s life after he fell seriously ill, over a matter of hours, on the evening of February 24.

His heartbroken parents were told their son might not make it through the night.

Douglas said: “I came home from work that day and he was a bit clingy.

“We thought he was maybe coming down with something. We made sure he was drinking fluids, gave him Calpol and put him to bed.

“Then through the night he was quite hot and shivery. He was sick a couple of times.

“One of the things we noticed was that his hands and feet were cold, whereas the rest of him was hot.

“I didn’t know then that it is one of the signs of meningitis.

“Blood pressure is affected - it gets very low. I could kick myself now , but I didn’t know it was one of the signs.

“We stayed with him all night and by the morning he was sleeping.

“I left for work in the morning and got a panicked text from my wife about 11.30am. She was trying to wake him up and he wasn’t responding.

“Purple marks started appearing on his body, so she dialled 999.

“As soon as the paramedics arrived they pulled him into the ambulance and gave him some antibiotics.

“He was conscious at that stage.”

Hospital tests confirmed the couple’s worst fear. He had developed meningitis and septicaemia, and they were told he might not survive.

Douglas, who is a commissioning engineer, said: “I spoke to the consultant and he told us he had a life threatening illness, that he was very very sorry and to prepare for the worst. Just thinking about it now makes me want to cry.

“One of the hardest parts for me was when the doctors told us they were going to have to put him to sleep so they could intubate him. I thought this might be the last time I see him awake.”

Euan was transferred to the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Edinburgh and put on kidney dialysis to give his organs the best chance of fighting the infection.

Douglas said: “I remember the doctor telling me that he was still the sickest patient in the hospital.

“He said, “I can’t tell you he is going to be alright.”

However, gradually Euan’s condition started to show signs of an improvement.

Doctors were able to remove the dialysis machine and a few days later he was was taken off the ventilator.

Almost three weeks after being placed in an induced coma, doctors were able to wake the little boy.

Douglas said: “I will never forget the moment. He let out a wee wail. It was a great moment.

“I was able to take him out and give him a cuddle. It was like holding a newborn.”

Euan was later transferred to Yorkhill hospital in Glasgow and is now recovering well at home in Banknock with his family, including one-year-old sister Alexis.

The couple are now warning parents to be vigilant. There is around one case of Meningitis C a year in Scotland.

Douglas said: “We were told officially that it was Meningitis C.

“When I asked the doctors why this happened they said that his immune system might not have reacted well to the vaccine or that it was a faulty batch. They said the doctors might have left it out of the fridges for too long.

“We got a letter back from Yorkhill saying that his immune system is fine.

“The doctors said if the paramedics hadn’t reacted as quickly as they did, it would have been a different story.

“For poor Euan and ourselves to have gone through the most horrendous time of our lives when this strain of meningitis is so very rare and knowing we may never know the reason why is frustrating to say the least.

“Euan fought the illness like a true warrior.

“If our story helps save the life of one child, then it will be worthwhile.”

Public Health Minister Maureen Watt said: “We cannot comment on individual cases but our deepest sympathy goes out to any family affected by meningitis.

“We are committed to protecting youngsters against this disease, which is why we have a comprehensive MenC vaccination programme which has significantly reduced cases of this strain, and why we are introducing two new meningitis vaccination programmes later this year to protect against MenB and MenACWY.

“There are many different types of viral and bacterial meningitis, and vaccines cannot protect against all of them.

However, being vaccinated provides the best chance of avoiding contracting these diseases and we would therefore urge all parents to make sure their children’s immunisations are up-to-date.”

A spokeswoman for NHS Forth Valley, said: “No further action is required as we are not aware of any issues regarding the efficacy of the vaccine.”

Douglas is taking part in the 3 Peaks Challenge next month to raise money for the Edinburgh Sick Kids Friends Foundation, which supports parents whose children are in hospital.

To sponsor the team go to www.justgiving.com/Douglas-Couttie1/2

Meningitis is an inflammation of the lining of the brain and spinal cord.

Although most people recover, some are left deaf or blind, and in others it may prove fatal.

In babies and young children it can cause fever, vomiting, refusal to feed, a high-pitched or moaning cry and irritability.

Older children and adults may experience a severe headache, stiff neck and aversion to bright lights as well as fever and vomiting. Eventually, the person may become drowsy or unconscious.