A SOUTH Lakeland mother has relived the horrific moments when she felt her Down’s Syndrome son was going to die.

Sheila Smith, of Milnthorpe, is keen to raise awareness and understanding of sepsis after her 12-year-old son, Billy, was diagnosed with the illness and was rushed to hospital in a critical condition.

Mrs Smith has now shared her “rollercoaster of a journey” in the hope that it could maybe one day save someone else’s life. She has also raised funds for Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool and Ronald McDonald House, a place which provides free ‘home away from home’ accommodation for families with children in hospital.

Billy, who is a pupil at Dallam School, Milnthorpe, was rushed to the intensive care unit at Alder Hey when he was found collapsed and unresponsive in the family’s bathroom.

Having developed flu-like symptoms throughout the day Mrs Smith did not think it could be anything else than just a bug.

It was when her son’s legs buckled from underneath him and he collapsed that Mrs Smith feared the worst.

Within 15 minutes of her calling 111 paramedics came to the house and they took Billy to the Royal Lancaster Infirmary’s A&E department before rushing him to Alder Hey.

The doctors diagnosed Billy with having pneumonia and sepsis and warned his parents that there was the possibility he could die.

“I’ve never been so scared in my entire life,” said Mrs Smith. “Everything was happening so quickly, His body was shutting down and we were told there was a high chance that we could lose him.

“When you watch your own son dying you start thinking to yourself: ‘Where did I go wrong?’”

Her husband, Ian, had stayed at home with their youngest daughter Megan, aged 11, but as Billy began to deteriorate he joined his wife at the hospital.

“We somehow found the strength to drive to Liverpool,” continued Mrs Smith. “As soon as we saw Billy arrive it was absolutely shocking as he had about 12 machines and tubes connected to him keeping him alive.”

Sepsis, also known as blood poisoning, is a life-threatening reaction to an infection.

Without being treated quickly, the disease can lead to multiple organ failure. In the UK 52,000 people die of sepsis every year, according to the national charity The Sepsis Trust and 25,000 children are affected by the illness annually.

Billy was in ICU for four days, a time which seemed like “forever” for the family.

However, now aged 13, Billy has fully recovered and has high hopes of one day becoming a farmer.

“You can’t wrap life in cotton wool,” continued Mrs Smith. “If we can save one life by just making people aware, then this is worth sharing.

Mrs Smith wanted to thank everyone that helped save Billy’s life and to those who were so “patient” and “kind” and supported the family through this difficult time.

“We are incredibly fortunate,” added Mrs Smith, “because things could have easily turned out different so thank you to everyone who has supported us through this journey.”