by Pat Franklin

** Little Peter Gazinidis, aged four, was saved after a dramatic dash to London for an operation. Mum Christine (centre) is furious after being told by one doctor not to be paranoid about the boy's condition. Coun Maria Armstrong (right), Mayor of Yateley and the boy's grandmother, took charge when she saw that the boy had turned blue.

** Picture: Jeff Trolley.

A FAMILY thanked God at a Yateley church service for the life of their four-year-old son who very nearly died.

Doctors said that little Peter Gatzinidis had gastroenteritis and one doctor told his mum, Christine, not to be paranoid when she insisted it was more serious. She was told to take the boy home and wait 48 hours.

But 24 hours later Peter was being rushed up to London in an ambulance for a life-saving operation which took over five hours. Over three feet of gangrenous intestine was removed from his body.

Peter is the grandson of the Mayor of Yateley, Coun Maria Armstrong, who told the congregation at Yateley Baptist Church the story of his brush with death.

Maria, who is a nurse, returned home on the evening of Jan 30 from two weeks away and, although she was tired, she felt she should stop in at her daughter's home in Primrose Walk to kiss her grandchildren goodnight.

"What I saw horrified me. My daughter Christine was sitting with Peter in her arms. He was blue and his lips were black; he looked like a corpse. His eyes were full of pain and anguish."

Maria soon learned that Christine had taken Peter to a doctor the previous day - Tuesday, Jan 29 - and been told that he had gastroenteritis. She was not able to see her own doctor, who was booked up that day. Later that evening Peter was screaming with abdominal pain and vomiting, but had no diarrhoea.

Christine rang the out of hours surgery in North Camp and was told by a second doctor that she could bring him in for a check.

When she arrived, that doctor was out on a call and she saw a third doctor. By that time Peter had fallen asleep. The third doctor told her not to be paranoid, but to take the boy home and see how he was in 48 hours and to give him the antibiotic which had been prescribed earlier.

All day Wednesday, Peter deteriorated and by the Wednesday evening when Maria called in to say goodnight, she could see that the boy was dying.

She told her daughter they had to get him to hospital immediately, and drove them straight to Frimley Park. They were told at reception that it would be a 20 minute wait to see a nurse, but Maria insisted that the boy did not have 20 minutes and had to be seen immediately.

As soon as the nurse saw him, she called the "crash team", who began working at once to resuscitate him.

Mum Christine, a social worker, takes up the story: "I felt like I was losing my sanity. We were told that his body had shut down. The doctor said things didn't look too good, but they would keep trying to resuscitate him and rehydrate him and that there was a slim possibility that he would pull through.

"The room just shut in on me. I could see the doctor's lips moving, but I couldn't hear what was said after that. Mum had to sign the legal forms.

"I kept saying that I had told them it wasn't gastroenteritis and they wouldn't believe me."

An X-ray showed that Peter had an obstruction in his intestines and the Frimley Park doctor said they could not operate at Frimley because there was no intensive care back-up.

An ambulance was called and Peter was rushed to St George's Hospital in London. There the pediatrician said Peter would die if he was operated on that night, and that it would take at least six hours to stabilise and rehydrate him.

He spent the night in severe pain, with Maria and Christine by his side. By that time Maria had rung the rest of the family and they were praying for the boy.

He was operated on in the morning, with the doctor saying it would take about 1 ½ hours. But it was 5 ½ hours before they wheeled him out, after removing over three feet of gangrenous intestine.

They were told that Peter had "Meckls diverticulities and gangrenous terminal ileum."

As Mayor Maria told the story to the congregation, she said she wanted to publicly thank God and give Him the glory for saving her grandson. "I want to thank God from the depths of my heart."

After the service Christine, who has two daughters aged 8 and 10 as well as Peter, said she was very angry and wanted a public apology from the doctors.

"They almost killed my son," she said. "They made me feel inadequate and made me doubt myself. I knew as a mother that it was a lot more serious than gastroenteritis, but they didn't want to hear what I was saying.

"Because they made me doubt myself, I almost lost my son."

Peter has lost a stone in weight, but is gradually getting back to normal and has gone back to play school at St Swithun's in Yateley.

"The room just shut in on me," said Christine. "I could see the doctor's lips moving, but I couldn't hear what was said after that. Mum had to sign the legal forms.

"I kept saying that I had told them it wasn't gastroenteritis and they wouldn't believe me."

An X-ray showed that Peter had an obstruction in his intestines, but the Frimley Park doctor said they could not operate at Frimley because there was no intensive care back-up.

An ambulance was called and Peter was rushed to St George's Hospital in London. There the pediatrician said Peter would die if he was operated on that night, and that it would take at least six hours to stabilise and rehydrate him.

He spent the night in severe pain, with Maria and Christine by his side. By that time Maria had rung the rest of the family and they were praying for the boy.

He was operated on in the morning, with the doctor saying it would take about 1 ½ hours. But it was 5 ½ hours before they wheeled him out, after removing over three feet of gangrenous intestine.

They were told that Peter had "Meckls diverticulities and gangrenous terminal ileum."

As Mayor Maria told the story to the congregation, she said the sequence of events was a miracle and that she wanted to publicly thank God and give Him the glory for saving her grandson. "I want to thank God from the depths of my heart."

After the service Christine, who has two daughters aged 8 and 10 as well as Peter, said she was very angry and wanted a public apology from the doctors.

"They almost killed my son," she said. "They made me feel inadequate and made me doubt myself. I knew as a mother that it was a lot more serious than gastroenteritis, but they didn't want to hear what I was saying.

"Because they made me doubt myself, I almost lost my son." Peter has lost a stone in weight, but is getting back to normal and has gone back to play school at St. Swithun's, Yateley.