Meningitis girl, 5, given hours to live recovers to become child model
17:04 GMT, 23 May 2012
A five-year-old who was given just hours to live after being struck down with meningitis is now enjoying success as a child model.
Little Jessica Fay, from Burnley, Lancashire, was just 15 weeks old when she almost died from the deadly disease and her parents feared she may never fully recover.
But following a stint in intensive care the toddler has gone from strength to strength and today enjoys nothing more than smiling for the cameras.
Fighting fit: Jessica Fay, who was struck down with meningitis, strikes a pose for the camera
It was Jessica's mother who first decided to sign her up with a local modelling agency, and three years since scoring her first job Jessica has starred in a number of catalogues including Littlewoods, Kays and fashion website Very.
She has also come runner up in three beauty pageants.
Mother-of-four Laura, 25, said: 'Jessica is just such an amazing little girl, to see her now posing and twirling for the cameras is just wonderful after everything she went through.
'I can’t believe how well she’s done; she just loves doing her modelling and she’s so cute everyone else seems to just love her too.
Jessica pictured in hospital, when doctors gave her just hours to live
After her mother, Laura, saw friends signing up their children to modelling agencies she just couldn’t resist putting Jessica on their books
'When she was poorly we didn’t think she was going to make it, we feared the worst, that even if she did live that she would lose her limbs or have brain damage, we didn’t know what to expect.'
Laura first noticed something was wrong when Jessica didn’t wake up to be fed during one night in August 2007 and her temperature rocketed.
Concerned, she rushed her daughter to the doctors where she was immediately referred to hospital. Doctors reassured Laura it was probably just a chest infection but decided to keep the toddler in overnight as a precaution.
But as Laura was dressing Jessica so she could go to sleep, she noticed a tiny purple freckle on her leg and anxiously asked a nurse to examine it.
'Jessica is just such an amazing little girl, to see her now posing and twirling for the cameras is just wonderful after everything she went through,' says mother Laura
Jessica was diagnosed with meningitis and for the next five days she remained in a critical condition.
One of Jessica's catalogue modelling shots
Her worried parent’s former nursery nurse Laura Bell and Adam Fay, 32, feared wouldn't make a full recovery knowing in many cases children have to have limbs amputated or suffer brain damage.
But two years later doctors gave her the all clear and was told she would be able to go to a normal school when the time came.
Her mother said: 'She was our only girl and she was so perfect we were just devastated that something was wrong with her.
'It was a massive relief when she started to pull through, babies died while we were at the hospital from meningitis, it was so frightening.
'It’s great to see her now, she can’t get enough of her modelling and beauty pageants.
'Some days I think it’s a bit much and maybe she needs a break but she’ll wake up so excited to have her picture taken, I have to take her.
'She’s a natural at it and she is the cutest though I might be a bit biased as her mum.'
The only only problems Jessica has from the meningitis are with her hearing. She is set to undergo two operations to insert grommets into her ears.
Laura added: 'We were worried about what she would be like but she’s done amazing the only problems she has from the meningitis are with her hearing.'