A DEVASTATED father has paid tribute to his larger than life son whose life he says was “wiped out” by meningitis at the weekend.
In an emotional interview with the Press, George Smith (45), told how his son Gregor (13), who had spent the day before his tragic death playing football with pals, was suddenly struck down by the killer bug and died within hours of being sent home by a doctor.
“It was the worst nightmare of my life,” he said. “The pain he went through no sister, father or mother should ever have to see their child go through that much pain.”
Gregor, a second year pupil at Kirkcaldy High School, had spent Saturday playing a football match with his team Kirkcaldy United before going for a kick about in the afternoon with pals.
He had a friend staying overnight at his dad’s house in Dysart on Saturday and they spent the night playing computer games and eating sweets and crisps.
Gregor woke his dad up around 3.30 a.m. saying he felt really hot, although he was shivering.
“I phoned NHS24 who thought it was a virus and told me give him paracetamol which I did, and his temperature subsided,” explained George.
“The next morning I woke him and he went downstairs, but I wasn’t happy with his colour as his lips and eyes were a bluey colour, so I phoned NHS24 again and a nurse talked to Gregor, who started to get confused about things.”
An appointment was made for him that afternoon at A&E and by the time he arrived he was struggling to walk and was very drowsy, falling asleep when his dad went to book him in.
He was really thirsty and drank two bottles of water while a doctor examined him. Then he was violently sick in the doctor’s surgery and his dad noticed a rash appearing on his arms and when pressed it went away.
He was sent home by the doctor and his dad put him to bed, at which time he was very confused.
“I was checking him every ten minutes and he just fell asleep, then about 40 minutes later I noticed a spot at the side of his eye. I woke him and he was very disorientated and when I asked him if he had banged his head he said he had. Then a big dark purple spot came up between his eyes and I noticed the one on his arms was spreading, so I got straight on to NHS24 who sent out an ambulance.”
George said that he instinctively knew it was meningitis, something which was confirmed by the ambulance driver on the way to hospital.
“We got to the hospital and the rest was the worst nightmare of my life,” he said.
The doctors eventually put Gregor into an induced sleep, and George said that that was the last time he heard his son talk.
About half an hour later his heart stopped, but the doctors managed to revive him, and he kept fighting for another 45 minutes before George and the rest of the family, including mum Jenny and sister Rachel (15), were called on to say their goodbyes.
“He was such a happy boy, always laughing and joking – he could light up a room with his laugh. He has left a huge hold in our lives and we don’t know what we will be able to fill it with.”
George said everyone in the local community, including the school, neighbours, parents, the football club and Fins Swimming Club, which Gregor was also a member of, had been very supportive.
“Everyone has been amazing and I would like to thank them all, in particular Mr Allan from KHS who has been in touch with us every day,” he said.
Gregor’s funeral will take place on Wednesday at Kirkcaldy Crematorium.