Happy birthday to little girl

A little girl who had to have her legs and an arm amputated after contracting meningitis can walk thanks to a new pair of legs.

Ellie-Mae Mellor, seven, has taken her first steps after losing three limbs to the deadly bug meningococcal septicemia as a baby.

Doctors told devastated parents, Kelly and Billy, that Ellie-Mae would die after she was rushed into hospital days before her first birthday – and even advised them to organize the last rites for their daughter.

But as the infection took hold, battling Ellie-Mae, from Stoke-on-Trent, Staffs stunned them all by getting stronger each day. She has since undergone 76 operations, including three amputations.

And now, after years of hospital appointments and risky surgeries, the schoolgirl has learned to walk on brand new legs – and she has vowed to complete a sponsored walk to raise money for her local school church.

Kelly, 34, said: ‘I am so proud of my daughter. Ellie-Mae always has a smile on her face.

‘She was so young when she got meningitis that she hadn’t learned to walk, so she doesn’t know any different.

‘Ellie-Mae never grumbles or complains, doesn’t see herself as different from her friends, and does everything they do.

‘When doctors told me they needed to amputate, I didn’t think twice about permitting them. I just wanted them to do whatever it took to save my little girl.

Ellie hasn’t been able to use prosthetic legs until now, as she has been increasing, but she has learned to walk on a pair of ‘rocking’ legs, which she can walk about easily.’

Lunchtime supervisor Kelly rushed Ellie-Mae to the University Hospital of North Staffordshire after she developed a small red bruise on her head, three days before her first birthday, in February 2007.

But within hours, the little girl was covered from head to toe in a purple rash – and medics didn’t believe she would survive.

Kelly said: ‘I could see how seriously ill Ellie-Mae was straight away, as the doctors were running around her frantically.

‘When they said she had meningitis, I went numb. They told me I should let her have the last rites, as she probably wouldn’t last the night.

‘We had Ellie-Mae baptized, but we refused to let her have the last rites – it felt like we would have been giving up on her.

‘I don’t remember feeling anything. I couldn’t believe this was happening to my daughter.

‘I couldn’t prepare myself to lose her, but by the next day, she was still fighting.

‘Doctors did everything they could to fight the infection, but they said they would have to amputate one of her legs and arm.

‘I didn’t care, as long as she was alive.’

Ellie-Mae was transferred to Birmingham Children’s Hospital in March before being allowed home in July.

But days later, she was taken back into the hospital after the bone in her remaining leg had ‘died’ – and doctors were forced to amputate it.

As Ellie-Mae grew, she had to endure dozens of painful operations.

But despite everything she has been through, Ellie-Mae is still determined to help others – and told her parents that she wanted to complete a sponsored walk with her friend, Leah Rigby, to raise money to repair the roof at the church attached to her school.

Ellie-Mae said: ‘I wanted to do it so we could help with the church roof; I am looking forward to it. It will be a challenge.’

Kelly added: ‘The school and the church have done so much for her, and we wanted to thank you.

‘Nothing has been too much trouble. They make sure she can take part in activities and school trips.

‘It is a fantastic idea; I know hundreds of people do sponsored walks, but the difference is Ellie-Mae has no legs.

‘It will be a massive challenge; I am immensely proud. She has been through so much, yet she has always got a smile and never let anything get her down.

‘And that she is doing this to help other people, well, we couldn’t ask for anything better from her.’

Ellie-Mae, who hopes to raise £250, added: ‘Even if we could just help a little bit towards it, that would be great.’

Ian Beardmore, headteacher of St Mary’s Catholic Primary School in Stoke, Staffs, said: ‘The church roof is in desperate need of funds. If these funds are not raised, the church will have to close.

‘I remember sitting in a room with about 15 professionals, and each of them said that Ellie was unlikely to be able to move her torso, let alone walk.

‘The fact that Ellie will be doing a sponsored walk to say thank you to our school and church is nothing less than a miracle.

‘She has added so much to our community, and I honestly feel she is the most inspirational and determined child I have ever met.’

Church members launched a £130,000 appeal this month to replace the roof after metal thieves targeted the building.

So far, £25,000 has been donated to the cause, which must be completed before the summer ends, or the church may have to close for good.

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