Heartbroken mother holds her five-day-old baby girl’s tiny hand for the last time

Heartbroken mother holds her five-day-old baby girl’s tiny hand for the last time knowing she won’t survive without life support after being passed common infection while in the womb

-Richard and Gabby Lewis were devastated when newborn died at five days old

-Baby Amber died on January 2 after contracting Group B Streptococcus (GBS)

-It is a common infection than can be easily prevented – but can be fatal in babies

-Grieving couple are calling on the NHS to routinely test for the infection

A grieving couple is calling on the NHS to routinely test expectant mothers for a common infection after their newborn baby died five days after contracting it.

Amber Lewis died on January 2 after contracting Group B Streptococcus, or GBS, which lives harmlessly in around 25 per cent of women – but can be fatal if passed onto their babies.

The youngster, who arrived into the world weighing 11lb, 4oz, suffered from a common infection that is usually preventable but can be fatal.

When she was only five days old, her mother and father, Richard Lewis, made the devastating decision to turn off her life support machine.

Doctors had said there was nothing more they could do for Amber, and the couple felt she had “suffered enough” in the short time she was alive.

Now, the grieving pair, from Cardiff, Wales, are calling on the Welsh NHS to routinely test expectant mums for the infection, Wales Online reports.

Richard, 35, a security officer, said: “What I miss most is holding her.

“No expectant parent should ever go into hospital and a week later need to start planning their baby’s funeral.

“In the end we were happy for her as she had suffered enough in the five days she was alive.

“If someone had said to me I could have my legs chopped off to get her back, I’d have grabbed the nearest blunt saw.”

Baby Amber died on January 2 this year after contracting Group B Streptococcus, or GBS, which lives harmlessly in around 25 per cent of women but can be fatal if passed on to their babies.

It is the UK’s most common cause of severe bacterial infection in newborn infants, and of meningitis in babies under three months.

Richard and Gabby, from Llanishen, say they cannot understand why testing for Group B Streptococcus is not available on the Welsh NHS.

Richard said: “It’s routinely available in so many countries around the world where health services are abysmal compared to ours, including places like Poland, Lithuania and the Czech Republic.

“I’m amazed and angry that we don’t have it here.”

He claimed: “We are supposed to be proud of our NHS but I have no faith in it anymore after what’s happened to us.”

Gabby, a deputy manager at Oasis in Cardiff, said she had the “perfect” pregnancy and was midwifery-led the entire term.

But she began to notice Amber wasn’t moving when she started going for cervical sweeps, which are designed to bring on labour.

“On December 27 I started to feel tiny twinges but nothing I couldn’t handle,” recalled Gabby.

“I knew something was happening. I was due another sweep on December 28 during a home visit but I started to feel contractions.

“I couldn’t feel Amber move at all.

“She moved all the time, all the way through the pregnancy.

“I thought perhaps she was getting ready to come out.”

The midwife who visited the couple at their home discovered that Gabby was 2cm dilated and told her to travel to the University Hospital of Wales.

The decision was made to induce the expectant mum the following day.

“There was so much meconium [the baby’s first stool] which was a sign that Amber was in distress,” added Gabby, 31.

“Her heartbeat then began to decelerate and there was no rest for either of us between contractions, so they decided to give me an emergency c-section under general anaesthetic.”

Amber was born “pale” and “floppy”, with the infection having taken hold.

In a desperate bid to increase her oxygen levels, doctors performed 11 minutes of chest compressions on her before she was taken to intensive care.

Richard said: “Myself and Gabby’s mum were ushered into a room and told that Amber was born not breathing.

“I just looked blankly at the staff. I was just in total shock. For some reason I still didn’t think the worst as I thought Amber would get stronger.”

Following blood tests, doctors told the couple that Amber had the Group B Strep infection and was severely brain damaged.

“Seeing my baby for the first time [after the anaesthetic had worn off] gave me a mixture of emotions,” said Gabby.

“We both just sat by her and held her hand while she was in the incubator. We couldn’t hold her as she had so many wires around her.

“It was quite overwhelming.

“We didn’t know anything about Group B Strep. We were so naive to it. When we heard it was an infection we just thought she could just fight it off.

“Little did we know how serious it was.

“We just felt the onus was on us to look it up. We’d been to all the appointments and classes and it had never come up.”

Amber was given medication to regulate her dangerous blood pressure levels, but she began to suffer seizures when doctors attempted to increase her body temperature.

Gabby added: “Whenever we were given good news it was followed up by bad news. It felt like three steps forward and five steps back all the time.”

Five days after Amber was born, her heartbroken parents made the decision to turn off her life support machine.

“The first time we held her we knew she was going to die,” said Gabby.

“You’ve had control over this life inside you for nine months and then you have to let them go. It’s the cruellest thing anyone can go through. I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy.”

Richard said he wished he could “turn back time” so he could find out about Group B Strep and how to get Gabby tested privately for the infection during her pregnancy.

“Before I die I hope the law is changed so the test is routinely offered in the UK,” he said. “How it’s not common practice I do not know.”

Group B Strep infections are thought to affect one in every 2,000 births when the condition is passed on to the baby through the amniotic fluid, a clear liquid that surrounds and protects the unborn baby in the womb.

It is also possible for a baby to contract the infection as it passes through the birth canal during labour.

Newborn babies have a poorly-developed immune system, so the bacteria can quickly spread through their body, causing serious infections such as meningitis and pneumonia.

One baby a day develops GBS infection in the UK, and one baby a week dies from it, figures show.

Last year a 250,000-strong petition was sent to the Department of Health urging all pregnant women in England and Wales to be freely tested for the bacteria on the NHS.

It is claimed offering these tests – which would cost £11 each – could prevent more than 80 per cent of GBS infections in newborn babies born to women carrying the bacteria.

At present, the test is only available privately in Wales. If Group B Strep is found, antibiotics are typically given to the pregnant woman.

Edward Morris, vice president of clinical quality for the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, said: “Group B Streptococcus (GBS) is one of the many bacteria which may be present in our bodies and is the most common cause of severe infection in babies during the first three months of life.

“It occurs naturally in the digestive system and lower vaginal tract of around a quarter of women at any one time, and does not normally cause any harm to pregnant women or their babies.

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Source : http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5739605/Heartbroken-mother-holds-five-day-old-baby-girls-tiny-hand-time.html
Source : https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/heartbroken-new-mum-holds-baby-12549242

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