'My daughter nearly died after catching chickenpox - I back the NHS vaccine call'

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now

This article contains affiliate links. We may earn a small commission on items purchased through this article, but that does not affect our editorial judgement.

Reign Passey, now five years old, was treated for chickenpox at Birmingham Children's Hospital

The mum of a girl left fighting for her life after catching chickenpox has backed an NHS vaccine call.

Reign Passey, now five, spent three weeks in a Birmingham hospital and had to undergo a lifesaving four-hour operation to remove the flesh-eating bacteria, in July 2022.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

She has been left with a large scar on her right side - which she tells people she got from "winning a fight against a crocodile". Leanne Passey, 32, says she developed strep A which turned her chickenpox into a flesh-eating infection.

NHS advisers said all children in the UK should be given a chickenpox vaccine at 12 and 18 months of age. The advice, issued by the joint committee on vaccination and immunisation, has also recommended a temporary catch-up programme for older children.

Reign Passey who almost died after catching chickenpox being treated in Birmingham Children's HospitalReign Passey who almost died after catching chickenpox being treated in Birmingham Children's Hospital
Reign Passey who almost died after catching chickenpox being treated in Birmingham Children's Hospital

Leanne from Dudley, said: "If the vaccine will prevent any child from getting what Reign got then I support it 1000 per cent. I wouldn’t want any mother to go through it. It’s horrendous - you never expect it to happen to you until it does."

Reign came down with chickenpox on July 4 2022 and initially appeared fine, Leanne says. But three days later the mum noticed she had a temperature and was low on energy - symptoms of strep A - an infection which children who have had chickenpox recently are more likely to develop.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Leanne spotted a red ring around one of the sores on Reign's side and decided to take her daughter to a doctor who then recommended she visit A&E immediately.

Leanne then decided to take Reign to Birmingham Children’s Hospital. Leanne said: “I’d gone from a child with chickenpox to her needing to go in for major op - I was screaming and I thought there’s a chance she was going to die.”

Reign Passey wiht mum LeanneReign Passey wiht mum Leanne
Reign Passey wiht mum Leanne

Once they arrived, Reign was taken to the operating theatre immediately. Leanne had a brief opportunity to give her daughter a kiss and a cuddle before she was sent into theatre for four hours where the surgeon made a large cut into her side to remove some of the infected flesh.

Reign was then taken to intensive care, put in an induced coma to manage the pain and given breathing support. Leanne said: "They had to leave her wound open because of how fast it spreads.”

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Leanne says doctors then started Reign on "ridiculous amounts of antibiotics" and she recovered. Reign is now "fully healed" and "doing very well." Leanne said: "She’s healed pretty much, she's obviously got some long term effects, which we will keep having to go back to the doctors for. We're not sure how things will go in the future, and she will have to have scar treatment at some point. We're not there yet, but she is much better. Reign is here and that's all that matters. If this vaccine would potentially save lives then I fully support it."

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.