Bucks Fizz star Jay Aston has revealed that her teenage daughter Josie is critically ill in hospital after being diagnosed with bacterial meningitis.
The 18-year-old was taken to intensive care and placed in an induced coma after her organs began to fail.
Almost a month later she is still in a specialized kidney unit and has been told she will have permanent scars.
Singer Jay said: “It was absolutely devastating. We were told it was 50/50 if she would pull through. We don’t know when she’ll be home yet.
“I sat by her bed night after night and made her make it happen. I couldn’t believe this was her destiny because she is such a lovely person. She is outgoing, friendly, good natured and full of life. It just felt so cruel.
“I prayed a lot. She is my world – we are incredibly close. I just couldn’t imagine being without her.”
Josie was hospitalized last month after Jay, 60, discovered a rash on her daughter’s arm which she immediately recognized as meningitis.
Doctors later said that without her quick mind, her daughter would not have survived.
The ordeal began on March 22 when Josie called her mother and said she was unwell.
Jay drove to the family home in Kent to find her daughter shaking.
She recalled: “She was laying in the sun so I thought maybe it was heat stroke. A few days earlier she had complained of joint pains, which I had put down to growing pains.”
But when Josie developed a headache, neck pain and a temperature that couldn’t come down with acetaminophen, Jay called 111 and an ambulance was ordered.
She said: “It was 6.45pm but the ambulance didn’t come. Her temperature reached almost 40. I was starting to get really worried. In the middle of the night she said, ‘Mom, I’m not right.’ I saw red dots on her arm.”
Jay immediately realized it could be meningitis when her 22-year-old guitarist husband, Dave Colquhoun, Josie’s father, contracted it 19 years earlier.
They quickly drove their daughter to the nearby Princess Royal University Hospital in Farnborough, Kent.
Within an hour, Josie was covered all over with the rash and the next day, as her lungs began to fail, she was taken to intensive care, where she was placed in an induced coma, given oxygen and given antibiotics.
Jay recalled, “The doctors said all her organs were failing and it was 50/50 if she would survive. I couldn’t believe what I heard. She was only 18 years old and just a few days before she was 100% fit and healthy.
“She was about to go on vacation with her best friends and start a new job in sales and marketing, which she was really looking forward to.”
Bacterial meningitis can lead to life-threatening blood poisoning.
It usually occurs when bacteria enter the bloodstream and travel to the brain and spinal cord. More serious and much rarer than viral meningitis, one in 10 cases is fatal. It typically comes on suddenly and worsens quickly.
It can cause permanent damage to the brain or nerves, and amputation of the affected limb is sometimes required.
Josie remained in a coma for five days while Jay slept in a chair next to her bed.
She said: “I was ready to pull it off. I held her hand, but one was wrinkled and the other had the rash weeping and blistering. It was terrible.”
Doctors pulled Josie out of the coma after five days, but there was no improvement. Jay said: “She hasn’t shown up for two days. It was the two worst days of my life. There was no answer. I knew it could go either way.
“But I couldn’t allow myself to think that I could lose her.
“Dave and I are quite religious, so we both prayed a lot. There were tears but I wanted to keep it together for both of us – he was very upset.”
Finally Josie opened her eyes and after a day she started to speak.
However, when doctors found her kidneys were damaged, they transferred her to Kings College Hospital in south London for treatment in the specialist kidney ward.
Jay said: “The doctors and nurses were amazing. They’re still not happy with the results of her blood tests, so she’s on blood transfusions and kidney dialysis. Your kidneys are recovering but not functioning fully.”
Josie also still has a rash on her forehead and knees and has been warned she will have permanent scars on her legs where the rash has caused the skin to blister and fall off.
Her feet are swollen and bandaged where the rash is still weeping and the skin on her left hand is peeling.
Jay said: “She was having trouble standing because of the pain in her feet and one toe was completely black. It’s pretty common to lose a limb when you have meningitis this bad. We thought they might have to amputate it, but luckily it’s coming back.
“Josie was incredibly brave but her mood is down. She really wants to go home. She’s had blood transfusions, EKGs, she’s got a big line in her throat, and she’s been on and off dialysis. She will not be well for months, possibly the rest of the year.”
Jay, who rose to fame when Bucks Fizz won the 1981 Eurovision Song Contest with Making Your Mind Up, still performs with two of her original bandmates, Cheryl Baker, 68, and Mike Nolan, 67, under her new name The Fizz. She hopes to be back on stage with them later this month.
Jay has been going through her own health struggles after being diagnosed with oral cancer in 2018 and Covid in 2021 but said nothing compares to the fear of losing her daughter.
The singer has had seven surgeries — including the removal of part of her tongue — that have left her cancer-free.
She explained: “I had a terrible time in the hospital. The pain was unbelievable but this was the worst month of my life. I am exhausted.
“Josie is my only child and I would trade places with her in a heartbeat.”
Der Spiegel reported a sharp rise in cases of meningitis B, like Josie’s, earlier this year, particularly among university students, following the lifting of pandemic restrictions last year.
Jay said Josie wants her story told to warn other people about the dangers of the infection, which can be spread through sneezing, coughing and kissing.
Although Josie was vaccinated against meningitis as a child, she had not been vaccinated against this particular type. Jay said, “There are six or seven versions.”
Jay hopes to be out of hospital later this week but knows there is still a long way to go.
She added: “If she hadn’t been in my bed that night I would have lost her. I hope she makes a full recovery but I’m just glad she’s alive.
“She’s a great kid; she is lovely and funny and i am very lucky and blessed to have her. Whatever happens next, we will take care of it.”
https://www.mirror.co.uk/3am/celebrity-news/bucks-fizz-star-jay-aston-26731850 Bucks Fizz star Jay Aston 'held daughter's hand and prayed' as she battled meningitis