Girl, 3, dies after suffering seizure
A three-year-old girl tragically died after suffering a seizure at an airport at the end of a dream family holiday in the Maldives.
Little Ava Akers, from Shropshire in the UK, died after she collapsed with seizures, fell into a coma and was transferred back to a children's clinic.
It was there that doctors gave the Akers the devastating news that the "Ava they knew was gone" as she was severely brain damaged. She died at home.
Her parents Phill and Helen, have now decided to launch a charity called Ava's Angels in her memory, taking food and essential items into Birmingham Children's Hospital to support families in their greatest time of need.
Phill, who works for a global digital IT firm, has now spoken out about his "perfectly healthy" little angel's tragic death.
DREAM HOLIDAY TURNS TO NIGHTMARE
"We'd had a brilliant holiday in the Maldives in March 2017, catching a sea plane to the island we were staying on, watching stingrays being fed, catching hermit crabs on the beach and snorkelling, which she took to straight away," he said.
"We were at the airport on the mainland about to get our flight back to Dubai and then onto Birmingham when we asked her if she'd like to choose something from the gift shop as a souvenir.
"She dropped it, which was unlike Ava as she was never clumsy. Then she dropped onto the floor having an atonic seizure. Her eyes rolled back, her arms went straight and her whole body was shaking.
"She was choking, I'd never seen a child have a seizure before, it was so scary, I thought she was going to die.
"We were transferred to a larger hospital and spent a week there. She went back to normal, singing, dancing, eating and watching the Trolls movie on the iPad - she loved that film.
"The doctors thought she'd had a throat infection and urine infection. The compound effect can cause seizures in under-fives but they said she would be fine. We felt so lucky.
A TURN FOR THE WORSE
"But that afternoon Ava felt really unwell, began hallucinating and started to cry a lot. She lost her balance and was unable to walk.
"The doctors did an MRI scan and lumbar puncture to look at the cerebral spinal fluid in her head to check it wasn't meningitis. They showed me the MRI and I could see it was dreadful."
At this point Ava fell into a coma, and their insurance company arranged for a medical evacuation to a private hospital in Bangkok.
Phill said: "It was here that she was diagnosed with Epstein Barr Virus Encephalitis (EBV), a form of glandular fever, which, in a minutia of cases penetrates the blood in the brain, causing it to slow down and resulting in catastrophic damage in a matter of hours.
"It's very rare in under-fives, there have only been about 20 children globally to have it, and 18 fully recovered. They said Ava would be one of the ones to recover and filled us with hope that everything was going to be OK."
'THE AVA YOU KNOW HAS GONE'
Three weeks later, they were flown back to the UK on a medical plane, and she was rushed to an intensive care unit in Stoke.
Although she began breathing again, she never opened her eyes, and spent three-and-a-half months in recovery.
"The doctors sat us down and said: 'Ava will not recover from this, she will never lead a normal life. The Ava you know has gone.'
"We said that, maybe if we took her home it could help. They said it was worth a try as sometimes, if you get a child back in their home surroundings, it can help them to rehabilitate.
"But we didn't realise at that time that she was blind and deaf from brain damage. Her eyes were perfect but her brain couldn't compute the signals.
"After four months as inpatients in the hospital, the doctors asked us if we wanted to start palliative care or if we wanted the life support machine to keep her alive.
"We decided to start on palliative care because we felt it was the kindest thing we could possibly do when you have a child who is so severely poorly.
"We continued to bring her home and, it was at home, on July 29, that our beautiful girl Ava passed away."
Inspired by Ava and seeing the importance of support while caring for a poorly child, the pair have now launched Ava's Angels in March 2018 to provide support to families of sick children during hospital stays.
This article originally appeared on The Sun and has been republished with permission.