Sunderland baby fought back from deadly meningitis infection

Courageous Ria Morgan looks the picture of health as she plays happily at home.

Saturday, 30th January 2016, 11:55 am
Updated Saturday, 30th January 2016, 11:59 am
Ria Morgan, of Archer Road, Farringdon, Sundertland who has battled back from meningitis to full health pictured wth her mum Helen Taylor.

But the photograph masks the story of a Sunderland youngster who battled with a deadly form of meningitis when she was just 12 days old - and won.

Doctors warned she might not pull through from bacterial meningitis which is the most serious form of the disease, as her weight plummeted to under five pounds.

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And that wasn’t her only crisis.

Fights with septicaemia and septic arthritis also developed during an eight-week stay in hospital.

Even now, two years on, she’s coping with a blood clot in her leg but she is doing it with a smile on her face.

Today, proud mum Helen Taylor, 32, paid tribute to her “absolute miracle” daughter and nominated a string of worthy causes for Echo awards, for the way they provided vital support.

She told how the “fantastic” F65 children’s ward at Sunderland Royal Hospital went above and beyond to help.

One nurse comforted her for 45 minutes when Helen collapsed after being told her daughter had a life-threatening condition. Another stayed with her all night as she came to terms with the news.

Helen added: “My daughter is absolutely beautiful and I don’t know how I could live in a world without her.”

Ria was born on October 6, 2013 weighing 6lb 6ozs but just 12 days later, Helen, from Farringdon, noticed a tiny black mark at the top of her leg.

She got immediate help and rushed her daughter straight to accident and emergency at Sunderland Royal.

By the time she got there, Ria’s temperature was soaring and all of her leg had turned black. Ria was given a lumbar puncture test to determine a diagnosis and when it came back 48 hours later as bacterial meningitis, Ria and her mum were rushed under blue lights to the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle.

An MRI scan, huge doses of antibiotics and an operation to clean out a huge build-up of fluid round her hip all followed.

Helen said: “I did not leave her side for weeks. When she was going for the operation, we had to sign forms and they made us understand that she was really poorly. At one point, they did not think she was going to make it.

Ria Morgan, of Archer Road, Farringdon, Sundertland who has battled back from meningitis to full health pictured wth her mum Helen Taylor.

“But the doctors were coming and telling us ‘I can’t believe this little girl.”

The doctors watched as battling Ria fought every disease and setback which came her way.

And even since leaving hospital, she’s fought scarlet fever and still picks up bugs easily because of her low immune system.

But Helen, who is also mum to Joseph Fagan, 12, added: “She is a battler and she is made of hard stuff.

“You can lose limbs from meningitis. Luckily, she didn’t. She is fit and well.”

Health Awards

The devotion and caring spirit of the staff on the F65 ward has been praised by mum Helen Taylor for helping her through her darkest moments.

Helen collapsed in Sunderland Royal Hospital after hearing her daughter was fighting the worst strain of meningitis.

But for 45 minutes, one nurse sat on the floor with her and comforted her.

Another stayed with her newborn daughter Ria all night so Helen could try to get some sleep as she came to terms with the news.

“When you are a new mum and you have a new baby with a massive illness, people don’t realise how serious it is,” said Helen.

“For 45 minutes, a nurse sat with me and talked with me. They never left me the whole night. Sunderland Royal was absolutely fantastic.”

Now, the team has been nominated for a Sunderland Echo Health awards.

Pauline Palmer, matron for paediatrics on the children’s wards at Sunderland Royal, said; “This is fantastic. The teams work so hard on the ward and it is lovely to be nominated.

“That the nomination came from a parent and it was the care we gave to them too, it shows that we don’t forget them.”

The competition is being held in association with City Hospitals Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust, with NHS Sunderland Clinical Commissioning Group as partner sponsors and Olivers Dental Studio as category sponsors.

The very best will make it to our grand finals, to be held at the Stadium of Light in Sunderland on April 14.

Before then, you have plenty of time to nominate with a deadline of March 31 to get those entries in. So get nominating and make sure our unsung heroes get the limelight they deserve.

To nominate, either fill in the form on this page or visit

•Helen also nominated the Sunderland-based Make My Day Events for a WOW247 award.

Make My Day Events provides family themed theatrical events tailored to meet the client’s requirements.

And for Ria, they gave her the full Frozen theme experience when they visited the youngster on Christmas Eeve, 2015.

Helen said: “They looked fantastic, the outfits were fantastic and they sang to her - and she sang back.”

Ria was so enchanted with the whole experience “it was like there was no-one else in the room,” said Helen.

She still shows me the things she got off them. It is memories and it is all fantastic. There was not a dry eye in the house.”

We want to find the best in South Tyneside and Wearside’s arts, culture, hospitality and leisure scene.

Nominations can be sent in until the deadline of February 1. After that, judges will meet to draw up a shortlist in each category.

This year, the competition is backed by UK Asbestos Specialists (UKasl), The Marsden Grotto Private Beach and Downey’s Fish and Chip Restaurant in Roker and Seaham. The Best Western Roker Hotel will host the finale of our competition – held in association with our weekly entertainments guide, Wow 24/7 - on Thursday, February 25. To nominate, visit

Ria Morgan, of Archer Road, Farringdon, Sundertland who has battled back from meningitis to full health pictured wth her mum Helen Taylor.