Toddler has beaten odds to help fight killer illness

The Oxford Times: Leading the way in the sponsored toddle waddle in aid of Meningitis Now at Fringford Village Hall near Bicester, is three-year-old Xander Gibbs, who was born with meningitis, holding hands with children’s entertainer Leena Thakker. OX67889 Simon William Buy this photo Leading the way in the sponsored toddle waddle in aid of Meningitis Now at Fringford Village Hall near Bicester, is three-year-old Xander Gibbs, who was born with meningitis, holding hands with children’s entertainer Leena Thakker. OX67889 Simon William

WHEN little Xander Gibbs was born with meningitis he spent the first weeks of his life in hospital.

Battling the odds, the three-year-old from St Michael’s Close, Fringford, near Bicester, made a full recovery.

But his mum Miranda, 43, made a pledge to raise cash and awareness for charity Meningitis Now.

On Saturday, Xander and about 30 of his friends took part in a conga as part of a toddle waddle birthday party at Fringford Village Hall for the charity.

She said: “The kids were really great, but doing a toddle waddle was a bit like herding cats.”

When Xander was born by caesarean section doctors were concerned by the colour of Miss Gibbs’s waters.

They whisked Xander off for tests, which confirmed neo-natal bacterial meningitis.

Over the following two-and-a-half weeks Miss Gibbs watched her son undergo medical treatment and, thankfully, come out the other end happy and well.

It was a huge battle for Xander as Miss Gibbs said that statistics show up to 30 per cent with this form of meningitis do not survive, and of those who do, 50 per cent have long-term health problems.

The market researcher said: “What was really worrying was he never looked ill.

“It was very hard to look at this little baby because he looked fine, but in his body he was having the fight of his life. He was very very lucky.

“I have still got to watch him until he’s 12 in case there’s any potential learning issues. He’s just this amazing little thing.”

Contracted at or before birth, neonatal meningitis is usually diagnosed within the first month of life.

But as many babies are unwell before they are born, this can result in a premature birth.

The illness is caused by a specific bacteria and can be transmitted to the baby across the placenta before the child is born.

As well as raising money for the cause, Miss Gibbs hands out meningitis symptom cards in Co-op branches across Oxfordshire.

Leah Wynn, community fundraiser for Meningitis Now, said: “We’re really grateful to Miranda and everyone who took part in this fantastic toddle waddle.

“Every penny we receive will help us fight the disease on all fronts.”

So far, the event has raised £320.

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