Beth Emery and her wife Helen Emery are organising a 5km fun run/walk along Worthing Promenade in memory of their son Isaac who lived for just 39 minutes.
The event will be on Saturday, May 11 at 2.30pm.
Baby Isaac died shortly after birth on December 4 2018 due to a Group B Strep infection (also known as GBS).
As Beth explains: “GBS is the most common cause of life-threatening infection in new-born babies in the UK, causing sepsis, pneumonia, and meningitis. Each week in the UK, one baby dies and another is left with a long-term disability as a result of a GBS infection.”
Beth had not heard of group B Strep when she was admitted to Worthing Hospital to give birth after a relatively straight-forward pregnancy. Isaac was born on December 4, but died 39 minutes after birth. Beth and Helen were told two days later that Isaac had died due to an overwhelming group B Strep infection.
“Group B strep was never mentioned in any of our prenatal classes or appointments, having since learnt about how treatable this can be, we think it should be mentioned to every pregnant woman. Even just being handed the facts and figures about this on a leaflet would inform women of their rights to choose to get tested privately as this is currently not offered as a routine test on the NHS.
“Testing is standard practice in many countries but because we weren’t even told about group B Strep, we were left in ignorance and denied the opportunity to decide if we wanted to get tested or not.”
Beth added: “The UK does not routinely test for group B Strep, which causes a range of serious infections including pneumonia, meningitis and sepsis, unlike the United States, Canada, Germany, France, Spain and many other developed countries where all mothers-to-be are tested. The bacteria may be passed unknowingly from a mother to her baby around birth and kills one baby a week in the UK and leaves another with a long-term disability, like cerebral palsy or hearing or vision loss.
“We have both found support through our friends and family during this difficult time. We were very excited, as all expectant parents are, about coming out of hospital as a family of three but our worlds were turned upside down. Shortly after coming out of hospital we discovered GBSS (Group B Strep Support Charity) and decided to help them by fundraising”
“We are doing everything we can to help raise awareness and have already raised over £4600 for GBSS. As well as the 5Km Fun Run/Walk organised for Saturday, May 11 there will be several concerts this year with the chosen charity being GBSS. We won’t rest until there is a change. We owe it to Isaac that he has a part in this legacy.”
Helen runs both The Rowland Singers and The Emery Ensemble, both of which have chosen GBSS as their charity for the rest of the year. You can find out about their events by visiting their websites www.rowlandsingers.co.uk and www.the-emery-ensemble.co.uk or contacting them on Facebook.
“Most group B Strep infections in new-born babies can be prevented by testing the mother late in pregnancy and providing intravenous antibiotics during labour to those who test positive. This reduces the risk of a baby developing a group B Strep infection by up to 90 per cent. The test would cost the NHS just £11 and costs from £35 privately. Pregnant women can take a simple, safe test between 35 and 37 weeks.”
Jane Plumb, chief executive and founder of Group B Strep Support charity, said: “The current UK policy on group B Strep is not working. At present, pregnant women are assessed for risk factors for group B Strep developing in the baby.
“However, we are missing lots of babies whose mums don’t have risk factors but do carry the bacteria. This means we’re putting new-borns at a terrible risk of dying or suffering from a devastating long-term health condition. This situation cannot continue.”
Beth added: “A simple swab test could save a baby’s life and if we can help to get that message out there by sharing Isaac’s story, then dealing with his death is a little bit easier. One baby a week dies through group B Strep; and to us that is one baby a week too many.”
If you would like to take part in Run for Isaac on the May 11, visit www.runforisaac.weebly.com to register. Adult entrants are £10 and under 16’s £5 (under 5’s are free with participating adult). All monies from entry fees will be going direct to GBSS as the event has been kindly sponsored by Brunswick and Thorn and another anonymous donor.