EDDY Haigh is a healthy young boy who is fit, active and thriving at school.
But, for his mum Jo, today will bring back emotional memories of her son’s birth and just how near she came to losing him to a life-threatening infection.
Eddy, aged eight, was born on Mother’s Day, but soon afterwards was struck down with the condition Group B Streptococcus, which left him fighting for survival in intensive care.
Jo, from Lodge Moor, wants more parents to be aware of the illness, which she says could be easily prevented through testing during pregnancy.
“I’m extremely lucky - he could have died,” said Jo.
“There were moments when his oxygen levels were dropping and he was losing the battle, but he kept fighting and got through it. Others aren’t so lucky. I always cry on his birthday, and raise a glass - I’m very thankful.”
Eddy, a Year 3 pupil at Hallam Primary, was born in the Jessop maternity wing on March 6, 2005 - meaning his birthday fell very close to Mothering Sunday this year.
“Mother’s Day can be anywhere between the beginning of March and the end of April, so it’s the closest it’s been to that this year,” said Jo, a geography teacher at Tapton School in Crosspool.
She is married to fellow teacher Paul, 38, deputy head at Notre Dame in Fulwood, and the couple have a younger daughter, Ellie, five.
“Eddy was a bit premature when he was born, he was born five weeks early, but everything seemed fine,” Jo remembers. “We took him home and tried to have a normal first few days.”
However, within that first week Eddy became seriously ill while being breastfed. “He turned blue and went limp - his life was going,” Jo said.
“I felt shocked. Because I’d never had a baby before, I knew it wasn’t right but I didn’t know how seriously wrong things were. After a few seconds he sort of recovered himself, so I didn’t call 999 straight away.” Instead Jo called her midwife, who visited the house.
“She took one look at him and said he needed to go to hospital. When we got him to the Children’s Hospital he was going from bad to worse. His oxygen levels were going down and they did blood tests and a lumbar puncture.
“After his third or fourth attack of turning blue and not responding, they admitted him to intensive care. Slowly but surely they gave him antibiotics to treat his infection, and he got his strength back.
“We were looked after brilliantly, and he was sent home when he was two weeks old.”
The Streptococcus bacteria is carried by a quarter of pregnant women, and is usually harmless, but can cause problems if it is transferred to newborn babies during labour.
Group B infections hit one in every 2,000 babies every year in the UK. One in 10 affected babies dies of blood poisoning, pneumonia or meningitis, while a fifth are affected permanently by cerebral palsy, blindness, deafness or serious learning difficulties.
The charity Group B Strep Support wants the NHS to inform every mum-to-be about the infection during their antenatal care, as well as making testing more widely available.
“Testing should be done as a matter of course,” said Jo.
“When I had Ellie, they gave her antibiotics to make sure it didn’t happen again.
Visit www.gbss.org.uk for more information.