Parents distraught after herpes infection kills newborn son: ‘We want answers’

Sarah Higson and Kit. (Photo: Facebook/Sarah Higson)
Sarah Higson and Kit. (Photo: Facebook/Sarah Higson)

A couple are heartbroken after the untimely death of their newborn son.

Sarah Higson and James de Malplaquet’s little Kit died at just 13 days old after contracting the herpes virus, which is believed to have been passed on by a simple kiss or touch from a nurse or relative.

The couple, from Brighton in England, are now trying to raise awareness of the possible fatal dangers newborn babies face if they contract the common cold sore germ, Daily Mail writes.

Although her pregnancy was mostly free of complications, Sarah had to be induced at 39 weeks due to high blood pressure. She gave birth to a healthy little boy via caesarean section at the Royal Sussex County Hospital and the happy couple named their new bundle of joy Kit.

But it wasn’t long before tragedy struck.

Kit had a low blood sugar and was taken to special care for few days where he was given antibiotics as a precaution. The little guy’s symptoms worsened and doctors couldn’t figure out what was happening.

“Nobody knew what was wrong but were told not to worry about him,” Sarah told Mirror Online. “He wasn’t waking up for feeds, he was sleepy and not receptive to pain.

“They’d prick his heel for blood tests and he wouldn’t wake up. The nurses were dismissive and said his tests were normal.”

Kit developed jaundice (a liver condition that causes a newborn baby’s skin and eyes to turn yellow) but was discharged at seven days old.

Sarah and James noticed that he didn’t cry and slept all the time but they weren’t whether this was anything to worry about.

After a midwife paid the couple a routine visit, she suggested they take him to the Royal Alex Hospital.

“The doctors said, ‘You’ll look back and wonder how you got through this because you’ll have a healthy boy.’ We clung onto that, we trusted them,” Sarah recalls.

But Kit’s conditioned worsened and he was transferred to the Evelina London Children’s Hospital and put on a ventilator, Huffington Post writes.

Sarah and James were told by doctors their tiny son wouldn’t make it.

“When we got to the hospital he didn’t look like our baby Kit anymore. He was twice the size, bleeding a lot, swollen.

“His clothes were soaked in blood. They had to wrap him in a plastic bag to keep him warm. It was horrific to see.”

Sarah describes the experience as “absolutely horrendous”.

A doctor asked them about cold sores but Sarah said she’d never had one while James last had a cold sore five years ago.

Doctors managed to stabilise Kit and the couple thought their nightmare was over.

However, at 5am they received an urgent call.

“We went upstairs and they’d draped a curtain around his bed. We knew it was bad news.

“They were trying to save his life but it was too late by then. We watched him die.”

His tubes were removed and Kit’s lifeless body was handed back to his parents.

According to Mirror Online, Kit had suffered a viral infection which caused sepsis and multiple organ failure.

The day after his death test results came back positive for HSV1 or herpes simplex type 1.

“We both really struggle and life can be difficult. But this has drawn us closer together,” Sarah says.

“There'’ a lot of trauma in grief, some days you don’t want to leave the house, others are okay. It’s not linear.”

It’s been nearly a year since Kit’s death on 28 September 2017, but Sarah and James are still seeking answers. It’s the reason they’ve now launched the Kit Tarka Foundation, which aims to raise money to further research into and awareness of the virus.

“We wanted answers but found it difficult to get them. There’s very little research out there,” Sarah says.

“People need to know – don’t go near a baby if you have a cold sore. To a medical professional his symptoms weren’t obvious, they didn’t know.

“There needs to be more training.”


SOURCES: Mirror Online, Huffington Post, Daily Mail

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