I don’t normally read what I would class as ‘trashy magazines’ However when I picked up some bread yesterday the title on the front of ‘Take A Break’ caught my attention so I picked up a copy and bought it home.
I had no idea what the story would be based on but the title on the front cover read:
Our Perfect Boy – He died for the sake of £11
I got home, settled my boys and opened the magazine. The story is told by parents Shaheen McQuade and Craig Blackie, who lost their beautiful boy Zach to meningitis triggered by Early Onset Group B Strep.
This is their story:
NEW mum Shaheen McQuade danced for joy when she realised she was going into labour. Less than two weeks later, her baby died in her arms from a common infection that could have been prevented.
Instead of Christmas presents for little Zach, Shaheen and her fiance Craig Blackie are buying him a headstone.
And instead of looking forward to a lifetime of happiness with their son, they are fighting to save other parents from the hell they are having to endure.
Zach John James Blackie was born on August 2, weighing a healthy 7lb 10oz. He was a happy, settled newborn.
But he fell ill with terrifying speed and died on August 15 of meningitis, triggered by an infection called Group Strep B.
It could have been identified and treated with antibiotics if Shaheen, 24, had been given an inexpensive swab test while pregnant.
Strep B can cause pneumonia, disability or meningitis. Mums-to-be are routinely screened for it in the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Israel, Belgium, France, Spain, Germany, Italy, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Slovenia, Argentina and Kenya – but not in Scotland.
Shaheen and Craig, 32, say that must change. They agreed to tell their harrowing story to raise awareness of their cause.
Craig, a painter and decorator from Bellshill, Lanarkshire, said: “We don’t want another parent to go through what we have gone through.”
Shaheen recalled: “Zach was perfectly healthy for 12 days, then I noticed his breathing was a bit raspy. It wasn’t like him, but he cried for two hours solid.”
Craig called the health visitor, who had seen Zach the day before, and she said it sounded like colic. His parents gave him medicine and he seemed to settle for a while, but then his temperature rose.
By the time Zach was in an ambulance, it was a dangerously high 39C.
He was rushed to Wishaw General Hospital, where doctors broke the news that he had meningitis.
Specialists from Glasgow’s new Royal Hospital for Children arrived to move Zach to their intensive care unit. But they had to tell Shaheen and Craig: “Zach is very sick and he is probably going to die.”
Shaheen said through tears: “They said the bacteria was attacking his brain, and his heart had already stopped and they had to revive him.”
Zach made it to Glasgow, where his extended family gathered at his bedside. But although his little heart was pumping hard, his fight was already lost.
Shaheen recalled: “A consultant did an ultrasound of his brain and heart, then came and knelt beside us and said: ‘I am really sorry. But in my opinion, Zach has already died in his brain.’
“He said they would take him for a brain scan and pump everything into him for 48 hours if there was any activity at all.
“But they came back and took us into a side room and said, ‘I’m really sorry, but he has already gone.’”
Shaheen held Zach while the machines round him were switched off. She said: “He came into the world in my arms and that’s the way he was going out.
“They took hand and footprints and we cut a lock of hair each.
“Our family were speaking to him. I was telling him it was all right to go and how much we loved him.
“My sister passed away as a baby so I was telling him his auntie was coming for him. He wasn’t going to be on his own.
“Gradually they took out his cannula tube, then the ventilator. After that, he never took another breath.
“I bathed him, dried him and got him ready then put his babygro back on him.
“A lot of people were sitting holding him. I sat with him the way I used to sit with him in the house. I wouldn’t let him go.”
It was only after the funeral that Shaheen and Craig were told that group B streptococcus meningitis had taken their son. They were horrified to learn it could have been prevented.
Shaheen, who works for Virgin Media, said: “Pregnant women can carry it in the birth canal and it can be passed to the baby. If they had known I had it, I would have had antibiotics and Zach would have been born by Caesarean and been fine. It makes me so angry.
“The nurse told me after my waters broke, ‘I’m not going to bother swabbing you.’ That has preyed on my mind –
would they have noticed it then?
“Mums should be swabbed from 36 weeks. My last four midwife appointments I had protein in my urine and when I went into labour I had a temperature.
“All the warning signs were there but I was never tested.
“Throughout my pregnancy there was no awareness of strep B. There are meningitis posters everywhere, but nothing about Group Strep B.”
Around 2000 babies a year are born with strep B in the UK. Craig said: “The consultant told us only one or two
in Scotland die of it every year. But one baby dying a year from something preventable is not acceptable.”
The couple are full of praise for the staff who tried to save Zach, but they are determined to change the system to protect other families from strep B. They have set up a petition on the Scottish Parliament website and are raising money to help scientists develop a vaccine.
Shaheen said: “Strep B can be avoided by a simple test and precautions, and babies and parents can be spared a lifetime of pain.”
NHS Lanarkshire consultant obstetrician Dr Dina McLellan said: “Our sympathies go to Shaheen and Craig.
“In keeping with standard UK practice, we follow the Royal College of Obstetrician and Gynaecology guidelines. We do not routinely swab women for group B streptococcus (GBS) unless they have an identifiable risk factor.
“Although we cannot comment on individual cases, it is important to highlight that the guidelines are for the
prevention of early onset GBS only. There is no screening or preventative programme for late onset GBS.”
Many Thanks to the News Source: Daily Record