Grieving parents' plea for funded vaccination

 

Amazing, playful and the happiest boy around. That was toddler Donald Peach before he was killed in less than 24 hours by the deadly B-strain meningococcal disease.

His parents, Amy and Donald Peach, of Quirindi, south of Tamworth, watched helplessly as their youngest child deteriorated from apparently perfect health two weeks ago.

The heartbroken parents of little Donald Peach, who died from meningococcal B, want to make sure no other family goes through what they did.
The heartbroken parents of little Donald Peach, who died from meningococcal B, want to make sure no other family goes through what they did.

Donald, who was 20 months old, and his two older sisters were fully vaccinated according to the official government schedule. But Mr and Mrs Peach had no idea there was a vaccine against meningococcal B.

They are urging other parents to get their children vaccinated - and to beg the federal government to include the meningococcal B vaccine on the free schedule.

Three weeks after Donald's death, the couple recalled the terrible day their son fell ill and how rapidly he deteriorated.

"He woke from his nap on Friday at 2pm and had a temperature," Mrs Peach said. "I gave him Panadol and he looked to be better because he was happy and running around."

Mr Peach added: "He was running around taking off his nappy, he was throwing it.

"He was jumping around with us and we were all laying on the bed giving each other kisses.

"I was rubbing my whiskers over him."

Amy and Donald Peach with their children Lilly, 6, and Indi, 4 at their home in Quirindi. Picture: Sam Ruttyn
Amy and Donald Peach with their children Lilly, 6, and Indi, 4 at their home in Quirindi. Picture: Sam Ruttyn

Donald fell asleep about 6pm but woke shortly after with a fever of 39.9C.

The couple took their son straight to hospital to be checked. He was there for three hours and vomited once.

He was given more Panadol and a flu swab and was monitored until his temperature dropped and then sent home.

At 1am, Donald vomited again. Mrs Peach changed his nappy and saw a small purple dot on his groin about the size of a five-cent coin.

"I didn't think anything of it until I saw the rash because when we left the hospital, there was nothing," said Mrs Peach.

"The rash looked like a bruise, a purple rash. I'm glad I did change his nappy when I did because if not I wouldn't have noticed it."

Donald, with his big sisters, was in perfect health before he contracted meningococcal B.
Donald, with his big sisters, was in perfect health before he contracted meningococcal B.

They rushed Donald back to hospital, and within five minutes the rash had spread to his arm and chest.

Doctors recognised the symptoms of meningococcal, immediately putting him on antibiotics and a drip as they began arranging an emergency helicopter.

"I had the nurses with me and they were going to get the stretcher," Mrs Peach said.

"A little bit of blood bubbled from Donald's nose and I wiped it with a tissue and said to the lady 'his nose is bleeding'. Then he went into a fit.

Donald Peach with wife Amy. Their son Donald passed a few weeks ago. Picture: Sam Ruttyn
Donald Peach with wife Amy. Their son Donald passed a few weeks ago. Picture: Sam Ruttyn


"They started CPR and used the defibrillator and adrenaline for 35 to 45 minutes trying to bring him back. By the time the rash got there at 1am, he was gone by 4.30am, that's how quick it was.

"His heart stopped because his little body couldn't handle it. They said he would have been quite septic by that time."

Mr and Mrs Peach are determined to make sure other families don't go through the same tragedy.

They believe that if someone told them about the meningococcal B vaccine, Donald might still be alive.

"I'm angry I didn't know about it. The B strain, I had never ever heard of it," Mrs Peach said. "We would have got it done straight away if we had known.

The Peach family, just after Donald was born.
The Peach family, just after Donald was born.

 

"I've been terrified of meningococcal since I was kid; it is a disease that has always scared me.

"We've told our family and friends about it and most of our friends didn't even know the B vaccination was available."

The family is pleading with the government to include the B strain in childhood immunisations so that Donald's death won't be in vain.

"It's hard to put a cost on a life and if this could help a family then we will do anything to get it out there," Mrs Peach said. "I just want everyone to keep talking about him and I love looking through photos and remembering him as who he was."

 

Donald Christopher Peach died at the age of 20 months.
Donald Christopher Peach died at the age of 20 months.