girl without limbs
Brittany Hambleton
Brittany Hambleton
January 17, 2024 ·  4 min read

7-Year-Old Girl Loses Both Legs After Doctors Misdiagnosed Her Meningitis as A Stomach Ache

In just a matter of hours, a little girl’s life changed forever, but she’s determined not to let it stop her from achieving her dreams.

When Brogan Partridge was seven years old, she contracted a deadly meningitis infection which led to the loss of both her legs [1]. She’d joined her parents on their honeymoon vacation to Cornwall, England. After a fun day at the beach, the girl wasn’t feeling too well and her parents told her to relax and get some rest. 

12 days later, when her condition didn’t improve, her parents, Aimee, 28 and Craig, 32, took her to the hospital and they were sent home with a tummy bug diagnosis. Barely three hours later, blotchy bruises due to blood poisoning began to appear on both her legs and she was taken back to the ER. The bruises soon spread to other parents of her body and caused her a lot of pain.

After consulting with a GP, she was taken to Birmingham Children’s Hospital where the only option was to amputate her legs before the infection would spread to her vital organs.

“I didn’t know the symptoms of meningitis at the time,” Aimee, a mom-of-four said to The Sun UK [2]. But within about three hours of leaving A&E, she was rushed back in after she started getting a rash. When we got back in the doctors then confirmed our worst fears. We’re so lucky that she was saved but we were devastated when Brogan had to have her left foot amputated due to the septicemia.”

Losing the other leg was a difficult reality to face

Her parents were devastated when they were told that the little girl’s right leg would have to be amputated as well. She was only seven at the time and already dealing with so much pain. 

We were later told she will need to have her right foot amputated too,” Aimee said. “When we first found out she was going to lose her legs, we thought there was absolutely no way that could happen. I didn’t want my little girl to lose her legs but it was the only option.”

At first it was a big shock for all of us but at the moment we are at the point where we just want to get it over and done with really,” said Brogan’s dad, Craig. 

Brogan’s parents shared her story to warn other parents and doctors to monitor little children’s symptoms more carefully. According to Aimee, the rash and bruises on Brogan were nothing like the mild rash people are usually told to look out for. 

Brogan bravely fought through it all

Now 11, Brogan is a strong, focused young lady who is determined to regain control of her life. She’s spent over three years dealing in pain and under heavy medication, but she’s starting to get her life back on track now.

“She was completely oblivious to it all because she was so heavily medicated at the time,” her mother said. “Her education suffered because of it. But now she’s 11, she’s adjusted to everything really well. She’s always had a good mindset and is determined to get her full independence back.”

Meningitis: A deadly disease that imitates benign flu or a nasty hangover

Meningitis is an inflammation of the meninges, the three protective membranes that surround the brain and the spinal cord. It’s typically caused by a bacterial or viral infection, but other conditions such as cancer or severe injuries can cause meningitis [3].

Although the figures may vary by region and climate, over 1.2 million cases of bacterial meningitis are expected to occur in the world every year [4]. This condition is a serious one that quickly progresses to septicemia or blood poisoning, which involves the build-up of bacteria in the bloodstream. It triggers widespread inflammation and permanent damage to the nerves and organs.

The long-term side effects include recurring headaches, memory or concentration problems, permanent or temporary deafness, seizures, brain damage, and loss of limbs.

Meningitis is more common in babies and younger people. 

Symptoms of meningitis in babies include:

  • Fever with cold hands and feet
  • Floppy limbs
  • Drowsiness
  • Bulging soft spot in the center of their heads
  • High-pitched cry and irritation
  • Loss of appetite and vomiting
  • Stiff body

General symptoms of meningitis include:

  • High fever
  • Deep-purple colored rash and blotchy bruises
  • Severe muscle pain
  • Migraines 
  • Drowsiness and difficulty waking up
  • Lethargy
  • Stiff necks
  • Irritability and vomiting
  • Stomach pain

Acute bacterial meningitis must be treated by an antibiotic routine immediately to prevent further spread of the infection. The antibiotic medication to be used would depend on the type of bacteria causing the infection. Immediate treatment reduces the risk of long-term complication such as seizures and brain swelling. Viral meningitis will usually be managed to resolve on its own, but certain viruses would require immediate treatment with intravenous antiviral medications. Vaccines are also available to help prevent bacterial meningitis. 

  1. Natalie O’Neill. Girl loses both legs after doctors mistake meningitis for ‘tummy bug’. NY Post. Retrieved 25-10-19
  2. Matt Coyle. MISSED SIGNS: Girl, 7, loses both legs to meningitis after doctors sent her home from A&E with ‘tummy bug’. The Sun. Retrieved 25-10-19
  3. Verneda Lights and Elizabeth Boskey. What Do You Want to Know About Meningitis? Health Line. Health Line. Retrieved 25-10-19
  4. Chapter 2: Epidemiology of Meningitis Caused by Neisseria meningitidis, Streptococcus pneumoniae, and Haemophilus influenza. CDC. Retrieved 25-10-19