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Ali’s story

One morning in December 2021, Ali complained of stomach pains, and within hours, she went from being a bubbly little girl playing with her three big sisters, to fighting for her life in intensive care.

“She had a temperature and was vomiting, but there had been a spate of gastro infections going around, so we thought it must have been that” Ali’s mum, Bianca, says.

Over the next few hours, Ali’s condition worsened, and Bianca soon noticed light purple blotches on her daughter’s stomach. Bianca rushed Ali straight to their local hospital.

“My husband came over to get Ali out of the car and she was limp,” Bianca says. “She was just not there.”

“She started going all blue — a blue purply colour — underneath her eyes and at the top of her lip. They had to start her on oxygen straight away.”

Ali was showing signs of meningococcal sepsis, a disease where the meningococcal bacteria enter the bloodstream and multiply. Her dad went with her in the ambulance as she was transported to the Queensland Children’s Hospital.

By the time Bianca arrived, that evening, Ali was in a coma.

“She didn’t look like my baby. She was covered in purply, reddy blotches all over her body and arms and legs. Her eyes were all swollen. Seeing her like that absolutely broke me.”

The incredible doctors and nurses at Queensland Children’s Hospital did everything they could to keep Ali comfortable and prevent further damage to her growing brain and body.

But sadly, her arms and legs couldn’t be saved. Bianca had the heart-wrenching job of telling her active six-year-old that she was going to lose her arms and legs.

I was distraught. Devastated. No child would want to lose their arms and legs but at the end of the day it was a case of she loses her limbs, or she loses her life.”

The ongoing rehabilitation as a quad-amputee is demanding, but Ali continues to amaze her parents by taking everything in her stride and facing every challenge head-on. She remains determined to conquer every day with a fierce and resilient attitude. She loves painting and is determined to become a paralympic swimmer when she grows up.

Meet Ali and her mum

Sepsis is a leading cause of childhood death in Australia.

Dr Sainath Raman sees what sepsis takes from children.

The experience of looking after Ali inspired me to do more for children like her. We can’t prevent children from going into septic shock. But with more research, we hope we can change the trajectory of their illness — and the course of their lives.”

Dr Sainath Raman, Senior Medical Officer and Researcher, Queensland Children’s Hospital
Dr Sainath Raman