Cookstown parents cut honeymoon short after daughter contracts brain infection from chicken pox

Brave Hollie with the staff who helped her to walk and talk again
Brave Hollie with the staff who helped her to walk and talk again

Little Hollie Watterson’s mum and dad, Jennifer and Alan, got the call every parent dreads when they were on honeymoon in Jamaica.

Hollie, who was staying with her grandmother along with her big sister Amy, had contracted chicken pox last April.

They were very good up there, the care was great. They gave us a side room and I was able to stay with her. At that stage she lost control down her right hand side, she couldn’t speak and she was very distressed.

Hollie’s mum Jennifer

But instead of getting better, the little girl was “behaving funny” and falling over.

“She took the chicken pox the first week we were away and we just thought it’s the normal chicken pox,” Jennifer explained.

“But mum happened to notice she was behaving a wee bit funny and then she fell and she couldn’t get back up again.”

Worried about Hollie’s condition, her grandma took her to Antrim A&E, where she was put on anti-virals.

But, still not happy with her condition, she was transferred to The Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children after her parents got back to Cookstown. Hollie was one of those rare cases, where a child suffers complications and had an infection in her brain known as encephalitis.

Because of the infection, the four-year-old had become paralysed down her right side and lost the ability to speak.

But this, her mother said, is when the medical staff came into their own.

During the four weeks she spent in hospital, Jennifer said: “They were very good up there, the care was great. They gave us a side room and I was able to stay with her. At that stage she lost control down her right hand side, she couldn’t speak and she was very distressed.”

But with the help of doctors, nurses, physiotherapists and occupational therapists, little Hollie was able to walk out of hospital just four weeks later, and hasn’t looked back.

Now fully recovered, Hollie went back to thank staff and present them with a cheque for £250 that was raised to buy gifts for children on the ward.