The parents of a 10-yr-old Cork girl who died as a result of severe Strep A infection have urged other parents to wake up to the seriousness of the disease.
Vivienne Murphy, from Millstreet in Co Cork, died on March 1st 2019, two weeks after complaining of a sore throat.
Her parents shared the sad story of her death in an interview on RTÉ’s This Week programme.
The Murphy family’s nightmare began on Valentine’s Day 2019.
Dermot Murphy picks up his daughter Vivienne from school. She was more subdued than usual, had less energy, and instead of going back with her father to pick up her older brother Steven from secondary school, she decided to sit on the couch and watch cartoons on TV.
“We both got a bit of a shock,” said Vivienne’s father Dermot. “When we opened her shirt and took off her school clothes, we saw this rash,” reports RTE.
They immediately took her to an outside family doctor, where a doctor told them he believed Vivien was suffering from a viral disease.
After giving their daughter acetaminophen and ibuprofen for two days, her fever continued to rise and Vivian’s parents decided to return to an outside doctor for more advice.
They were advised to see her GP and bring a urine sample with them if possible.
Five days later and after seeing three different doctors, Vivian’s condition worsened.
“We realised she was still getting worse, and the rash was really angry looking. By the evening she had pain and we noticed that her right leg started swelling at the knee,” said her father Dermot, reports RTE.
The doctor told the Murphys that if she wasn’t okay later in the night or in the morning, they could take their daughter to the emergency room.
Later that night, her father Dermot carried her down the stairs, put his daughter in the car and raced to Cork University Hospital (CUH).
They arrived at the hospital around 1am and were taken to a room next to the main emergency room.
While being examined by a nurse in the emergency room, Lily Murphy noticed something unusual.
Lilly said the CUH medical team ran blood tests on Vivienne and “all hell broke loose” when the results came back.
“They were showing us numbers, and we were looking at the nurse, and the nurse said ‘your daughter is critically ill’,” reports RTE.
Dermot noticed that the black spot on Vivian’s leg was getting bigger and bigger.
The black mark showed the presence of a disease named necrotising fasciitis, a rare bacterial infection that spreads rapidly through the body, and can cause death.
As Vivien’s condition worsened, the doctors decided to put her under sedation.
Lily and Dermot remember the last words she spoke before she fainted.
“She said ‘thank you, nurse, I’m sorry for crying. I know you’re only trying to help me’,” said Dermot, reports RTE.
After a while, they received a call from the medical team telling the Murphys they would need surgery if Vivian was to have any chance of surviving, and asking if they could have a permit.
“I said go ahead, just take care of her,” said Lilly, reports RTE.
During the operation, Lily recalled the doctor saying: “He said I think I have stopped the disease from spreading, but I had to cut away 17% of your daughter’s body,” reports RTE.
“The disease had gone where we thought it would go, it had gone up her leg, onto her buttocks, across her abdomen, and it had slowly started creeping down her left leg,” reports RTE.
A day after the operation, things changed soon for Vivienne, and she went into cardiac arrest.
“It was the longest night of our lives,” said Lilly, reports RTE.
“Then they told us that she was brain dead, and there was no hope,” reports RTE.
Lily said the decision to turn off Vivian’s life support was made because they wanted to protect her dignity.
Vivienne died on 1 March 2019.
“Even four years later time hasn’t dented the pain. When we found out what it was, how curable it was, and we were asked to swallow that bitter pill, that is the problem for me, it was such an easy thing to cure with antibiotics. That’s what we are struggling with, and probably will keep struggling with,” said Lilly, reports RTE.
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