Meningitis diagnosis in hours rather than days

In 2017, 1,000 runners took part in our annual OX5RUN for the Oxford Children's Hospital.

These amazing runners (and walkers) raised an incredible £126,000 for our very special hospital.

Some of this money has paid for a very special bit of kit.

It doesn't look like much, but this little white box is very clever indeed. It can diagnose meningitis.

And it does it very quickly.

Normally when a child has suspected meningitis it can take up to 72 hours to know for sure whether they have the condition or not.

During that long three-day wait the hospital will treat the young patients with intensive antibiotics assuming they do have these serious infections. This can be really unpleasant for the child. And the parents will probably worry - a lot.

But this little white box can diagnose these conditions in just two hours.

That means parents know quickly whether their child has the condition, and the child will only receive the treatment they really need.

When six-month-old Rory had suspected meningitis he was looked after at the Oxford Children's Hospital. His mum Stephanie, from South Oxfordshire, told us just what this machine would have meant to her, and to families in the future.

"At just two weeks old Rory was rushed to hospital with an unexplained temperature. He had to endure a lumbar puncture and received two different IV antibiotics while we endured an agonising wait to find out if he had meningitis. 36 hours later we were given the mixed news that it didn't look as though he had meningitis but that he was battling sepsis. It was a truly terrifying time.

"At the time having this piece of kit would have saved our family a lot of worry and a horribly long wait. Thanks to the care of the wonderful staff at the Oxford Children's Hospital, Rory fought off his infection and is now a lively, bubbly baby. Thankfully this story has a happy ending and having this machine will mean that many more families will too.

"His big sister calls Rory 'Little Lion', a name that suits him perfectly. We are so proud of him."

Eleanor Jones, Head of Fundraising at Oxford Hospitals Charity, said:

"We are incredibly proud that thanks to fundraising we have been able to buy this very special equipment that diagnoses meningitis so much more quickly.

"Before this the hospital would treat young patients suspected of having meningitis assuming they had this serious condition. This was unpleasant for the child and really worrying for the parents.

"The biofire machine can diagnose meningitis in just two hours, which means parents know quickly whether their child has the condition, and the child will only receive the treatment they really need.

"All this thanks to the wonderful fundraising efforts of our local community."