Halesworth woman sets up a charity in memory of her son

Courtney Parker set up her own charity named in memory of her son. PHOTO: Nick Butcher

Courtney Parker set up her own charity named in memory of her son. PHOTO: Nick Butcher - Credit: Nick Butcher

After losing her son at just six weeks old, one Halesworth woman is on a mission to prevent other families from suffering the same devastating loss.

Courtney Parker’s son Blayze was born in September last year after a perfectly healthy pregnancy.

For the first few weeks of his life, Miss Parker, who had previously worked as a childminder, feared there was something wrong with her baby.

“You couldn’t put him down,” said Miss Parker, 21. “He was so unsettled but everyone said he was just a normal baby. He was grunting a lot and his breathing was funny.”

One night when four-week old Blayze uncharacteristically wouldn’t feed at all, Miss Parker called the NHS non-emergency number 111 for advice. Hearing his breathing through the phone, the operator sent an ambulance.

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After two hours of monitoring the baby, paramedics advised Miss Parker and her partner Brett Aldred to take her son to see her local GP.

At the appointment, the doctor sent for another ambulance and baby Blayze was rushed to the James Paget University Hospital in Gorleston with a suspected lung infection.

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He was put into an induced coma and a ventilator was used to help him breathe, but he developed sleep apnea and stopped breathing three times.

A specialist ambulance transferred Blayze to Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge, where doctors told his family there was a 50/50 chance of him pulling through with a diagnosis of meningitis.

“It was just a waiting game,” said Miss Parker. “And then we found out he had strep B.”

Streptococcal infections are caused by the streptococcus group of bacteria, and are also known as strep.

Most pregnant women carrying the group B type of strep bacteria have healthy babies, but there is a small risk it can be passed on during childbirth.

These infections can case serious complications and be life threatening. One in 10 babies born with strep B will die from it, and another one in five who survive will have some kind of permanent side effect.

Miss Parker had never heard of strep B, and had no idea she carried it.

Blayze developed meningitis, septicaemia and went into septic shock, with tests also showing his brain had swollen.

Doctors told the family there was very little chance of Blayze surviving the infections, and if he did, he would have incredibly severe brain damage.

He was Christened at the hospital and died a few days later on November 9 at just six weeks old.

And now, Miss Parker has set up a charity in memory of her son, which aims to raise awareness of strep B and pay for pregnant women to be sent home tests to screen for the bacteria, something not offered on the NHS.

“Looking back at my pregnancy I did have some of the signs of strep B,” she said. “But I’d never thought anything of it.”

For women carrying strep B, antibiotics taken during childbirth which drastically reduce the chances of it being passed onto the baby.

And The Blayze’ing Star Charity is offering to pay for pregnant women to have the test done privately, in the hope that being prepared will prevent other families from losing their babies.

Miss Parker said: “Nobody I speak to knows anything about strep B. In a year from now, I want to walk down the street, ask people about it, and for everyone to say they know what it is.”

She kicked off her fundraising with a fun day at Halesworth’s Rifle Hall, which raised £1,500, and there are many more events planned in aid of the charity.

So far, 20 women have been tested for strep B and Miss Parker has begun to spread the message about the potentially fatal infection.

For more information, search for The Blayze’ing Star Charity on Facebook, or visit www.theblayzeingstar.org

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