Clare Collingwood Esland holds Esme and Elijah with Dr Neil Stanley and Emergency Care Assistant Wayne Turnbull

Baby sepsis survivor reunited with team that saved her life

Baby Esme on the road to full recovery

A baby who contracted sepsis at just 13 days old has been reunited with the clinicians who saved her life.

Clare and Simon Collingwood Esland rushed twin baby Esme to their local GP surgery, Corbridge Health Centre, in February after becoming concerned about her breathing.

Dr Neil Stanley immediately spotted that something was seriously wrong and called for assistance from fellow GP, Dr Ashleigh Willins, while he dialled 999.

They cared for Esme and administered vital oxygen until the arrival of North East Ambulance Service crew Paul Gray and Wayne Turnbull, who then took over Esme’s care.

They pre-alerted the resuscitation team at the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle and made their way on blue lights as quickly as possible to hospital, administering drugs en route to help Esme’s body.

Baby Esme underwent a series of tests, where it was confirmed Group B Streptococcus (GBS) Late-Onset Disease, an infection which can affect young babies, had led to sepsis and meningitis.

Esme was taken up to the intensive care ward, given a course of intravenous antibiotics and put on a ventilator to take over her breathing, while her twin brother Elijah was placed on an assessment ward for monitoring.

Thankfully Elijah was discharged days later after developing no symptoms but Esme was kept in hospital for two weeks to allow the antibiotics to fight the infection.

Both babies are now home safe and sound in Corbridge with mum, dad and older sister Amelie.

Clare was able to say thank you in person to Wayne and both doctors today (Wednesday, 13 September) as part of World Sepsis Day, a national day dedicated to raising awareness of sepsis.

“I often think of that day and how lucky we are to have her with us,” said Clare.

“It all happened within a matter of hours, and if everyone hadn’t have acted so quickly it could have been a different story.

“We don't know for certain if there will be any long term consequences for Esme, but at the moment there is nothing to suggest that she hasn't had anything but a full recovery. The baby they cared for is now a beautiful blue eyed blonde, with dimples, a ready smile and already the ability to crack us up with her comedic tendencies. The world would be a little less bright without her.”

Dr Stanley said: “Early recognition of sepsis is critical. Very young babies with sepsis often do not have the classical symptoms and signs of sepsis, which can make recognition for both families and health professionals more difficult. and this case demonstrates some of the symptoms to watch for – Esme had stopped feeding completely and was very pale, breathing very quickly and was floppy.

“Through the prompt and timely action of Esme’s parents, the staff at Corbridge Health Centre, the North East Ambulance Service and the Emergency Department and paediatric teams at the Royal Victoria Infirmary, Esme has had a fantastic recovery. It’s very nice to see her, she’s gone from a little babe in arms to a smiling little girl.”

Emergency Care Assistant Wayne, aged 36, has worked for North East Ambulance Service for three years after leaving the fire service. He said: “We didn’t know exactly what it was at the time, because Esme was so tiny it was hard to know how accurate our observations were. We just knew that she needed to be in hospital as soon as possible.

“It was fantastic to hear she had made a full recovery, and even better to be able to see her in person doing so well.”

Clare is now encouraging parents to be sepsis aware.

“I had heard of sepsis, in fact we had a sticker on the fridge with the symptoms of sepsis and meningitis, but to be honest when it was all happening we didn’t think about sepsis as she wasn’t displaying any of the headline symptoms. We just knew she wasn’t right.

“You know your baby well, trust your instincts; if you feel something is wrong, especially when they are so young, get them checked out.”

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