THE mother of a baby who contracted a rare form of meningitis after being born prematurely has described the experience as ‘terrifying’.
Julie Lester’s son Samuel was born at 36 weeks at Worthing Hospital on February 19.
The 34-year-old, of The Broadway, Lancing, said: “My daughter Kaitlynn was born prematurely in November 2010 and was in Worthing Special Care Unit so I was expecting Samuel to come early and was being monitored throughout the pregnancy.
“I did really well to get to the 36 week stage and went into labour naturally but when he was born Samuel did not feed well and seemed to be a bit tired.
“He also developed early onset jaundice and at the five day mark when I became concerned and he went into special care in Worthing.
“We were then told that he was having seizures and stopping breathing.”
The decision was taken to transfer Samuel to the Trevor Mann baby unit at Royal Sussex County Hospital.
“We were absolutely terrified as nobody seemed to know quite what was wrong with him,” said Mrs Lester. “They were saying it looked like it could be a metabolic disorder and he needed intensive care.
“We were fortunate that they had a bed for Samuel locally and we were relieved because Trevor Mann has an excellent reputation and they also took care of my nephew when he was very poorly.”
Mrs Lester and her husband Jim, 36, a web developer, were told that Samuel had contracted a rare form of meningitis.
She said: “To hear that word was awful although I think that in many ways we were just relieved that we had a diagnosis. We were being prepared for some kind of brain damage so it was a relief in many ways.
“The future is a little uncertain and Samuel will need checks to ensure he is developing normally but he has just started smiling which is lovely.
“We are just so grateful to the Trevor Mann for all that they have done, including the practical and emotional support.
“Worthing Hospital’s special care unit is also very close to my heart because they saved both of my babies.”
One of the pieces of equipment used to carry out tests on Samuel at the baby unit was a neonatal cerebral function monitoring machine.
The hospital is running a Push for Prems campaign to raise money to buy another monitor, as the existing one has to be shared between the ward. A four-mile sponsored walk will take place on Sunday, June 29. To make a donation go to www.justgiving.com/PushForPrems2014