A grieving mother has released a picture of her first and only hug with her baby – to call for a change in the law for all mums to be screened for a killer bacteria.
Hayley Keane, 26, only managed to hold her precious tot once after she contracted a bacteria while she was pregnant, which led to meningitis in little Simon John Foster.
She believes the baby, who died at just three days old last December, could have been saved following a routine screening for the Group B Streptococcus.
Hayley, from Hartlepool, is now campaigning for the NHS to introduce the routine screenings.
She said: “My first cuddle was my last cuddle with him. They took him away from me as soon as he was born.
“I didn’t see him for six hours. I never saw his eyes open, never heard him cry. I was robbed of his cry, his voice and his first step.
“At three days old they took him off life support and I held him for the first time. I held him so tight – the rush of love set my heart on fire.
“But he was limp – he was dying. He had multiple organ failure, the damage was already done.
“But my body was yearning to nurture him. I could only watch him fall apart. He was limp.
“He took his last breath on my chest. It was soft, like a whimper. He passed away in my arms.”
“He was so wanted. When I was pregnant I ate organically and did everything I possibly could to maintain a healthy pregnancy and at the last hurdle it all went horribly wrong.
“It went wrong because of a bacteria, something in this day and age you don’t believe will happen because of the medicine and equipment they’ve got.”
Hayley gave birth to Simon, named after his dad Simon Foster, 39, by C-section but after ten hours he suffered seizures and was cared for in an incubator.
Despite the best efforts of medics, he could not be saved. She hopes her story will raise awareness of Group B Streptococcus, which is a bacteria present in many people, often with no ill effects.
Hayley has added her voice to growing calls for routine screening of the bacterium late in pregnancy when, if found, can be tackled with antibiotics.
She said: “I want his life to make a difference. He died so I want his life to have served a purpose, to help other mothers.
“I knew, from having fertility treatment, that I was a carrier of Group B Streptococcus. But when I got pregnant they didn’t test for it.
“It would have been a simple test, and a simple treatment of antibiotics. But they didn’t test for it.
“In America it is mandatory, whereas in the UK it’s not, but it kills 70 babies a year and unfortunately mine was one of them.
“How can you put a price on a baby’s life? The NHS will fund unnecessary boob jobs but this is something that can save a life.
“If I had been tested I believe my baby would still be here. They have actually got the power to prevent this, that’s the most agonising part.”
Hayley also wants to let mums-to-be know that private screening is available.
“What’s £30 odd for the sake of having a baby in your arms?” she said.
The UK National Screening Committee does not recommend screening for all pregnant women as tests cannot predict if mothers will have the infection by the time they go into labour.
Anyone looking for more information on the dangers of Strep B can go to https://gbss.org.uk