I didn't think for a second it might be meningitis
KELSEY Smart was a happy, healthy popular little girl who loved playing with her friends and adored Justin Bieber.
She fell ill with what her parents were repeatedly told was a bug – but it turned out to be the killer disease meningitis.
Kelsey, from, Kingswood, died in Bristol Children's Hospital on Tuesday of last week and her parents Hannah and Jamie are telling the heartbreaking story of her loss to help raise awareness among other families of the warning signs of the illness.
The couple, who have a two-year-old son Jayden, are also desperate to be re-housed because they cannot bear to be in their flat with its many reminders of their daughter.
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Kelsey was born in Southmead Hospital on August 10, 2006, and was a Year 1 pupil at The Park Primary School.
She started being sick on the evening of Saturday, February 25, and was ill throughout the next day. She could not eat and could not keep any drink down but was fully alert, although tired.
"Kelsey had a pinprick rash on her belly. I wondered if it was chicken pox at first, as that has been going through my son's playgroup," said Hannah, 24. "I didn't think for a second it might be meningitis."
Hannah took her daughter on Sunday evening to the emergency GP service Frendoc, where the child was examined.
"They told me to go to my own doctor in the morning. I phoned up at 8am and was told I was in queue position 13. I eventually got to see a GP, who again said it was a bug, so we went home.
"Kelsey fell asleep so I put Jeremy Kyle on the TV, then she woke up and told me off for switching off her cartoons," Hannah recalled.
Later in the morning Kelsey started asking for her daddy and Hannah decided to take her in to the children's hospital, where Jamie, 34, was working as a painter and decorator.
On the way, Kelsey started fitting so Hannah stopped the car in Lawrence Hill and called 999. "I was so scared. I thought the ambulance would never come," she said.
At the hospital, emergency teams treated Kelsey with morphine and anti-inflammatories. It was thought she might have had a stroke. A neurosurgeon was brought in from Frenchay to carry out an operation to try to remove fluid from the brain, but the disease had taken hold.
"By 6.30 that evening we knew she wasn't our Kelsey any more," said Jamie.
The couple made the brave decision to donate their daughter's organs and have been told that Kelsey's heart has already been given to another child, while five other children will also be helped.
"We couldn't let her go to waste. She was so beautiful," said Hannah.
Kelsey, dressed in her Justin Bieber nightdress, was christened and her parents said their farewells to her, surrounded by her Hello Kitty toys and listening to Bieber's Baby Baby.
"She loved that song. We recorded her singing it a couple of weeks ago," said Hannah.
A post-mortem examination was carried out yesterday and an inquest will be held.
The couple have asked to be moved from their flat in Dragonfly Close.
"All we want is a two-bedroomed house with a back garden so we can buy Jayden a little puppy. We need to make the best life we can for him – and we want to do what we can to make other parents aware of the signs of meningitis," said Jamie.
Kingswood MP Chris Skidmore has taken up the case with Solon Housing Association and South Gloucestershire Council.
A council spokeswoman said: "We are currently in discussion with Solon on how best to support the couple with their housing needs at this difficult and sad time."
The Evening Post reported on Monday that Kelsey had died after falling ill with Group B meningococcal meningitis, a bacterial strain of the disease. Children and staff took part in a service that day to remember their classmate, who was in Year 1 at the school in Hollow Road.
The Health Protection Agency said although the likelihood of another child in the school developing the infection was "very low", people in close contact with Kelsey had been given preventative medicine.