Stepping out to beat a killer

When little Eve Farrelly eyes rolled back and her limbs went floppy her terrified mother knew something serious was wrong.

But mum Susan Farrelly, a nurse at the Royal Liverpool Hospital, said she had no idea her ten-day-old baby was suffering from life-threatening late onset Group B Streptococcus - a form of meningitis passed on during birth.

She said: "Eve was in the back of the car and we noticed she had been asleep for longer than usual and was making a funny grunting noise. At first, I thought I was just being neurotic but I quickly realised she was struggling to breathe, her eyes were rolling around and her limbs had gone floppy. It was terrifying.

"We rushed her to hospital and stripped her off because her temperature was going through the roof. When we got there, the doctors put her on 100 per cent oxygen and warned us she might not make it through the night."

Thankfully, with the expert help on-hand at Whiston Hospital, Eve not only made it through the night but is now a happy, healthy seven-month-old baby.

But Susan, 30, of Willow Road, St Helens, is now an active member of the Group B Strep Support action group - who are currently lobbying central government to encourage them to offer Strep B tests on the NHS.

Group B Streptococcus, commonly known as Strep B, is the most common cause of life-threatening infections in newborn babies in the UK and is carried by one in four women.

Its infections affect around 700 babies each year in the UK, of whom 75 die and another 40 suffer long-term problems as a result.

Susan added: "I'm a nurse and I had no idea what Strep B was - so what chance have most other mums got. But although it's such a potentially dangerous condition, it's not in the script for midwives at the moment.

"I've told all my friends about it and one of them tested positive. It won't necessarily be passed on to your baby, but mums-to-be should at least be informed about the condition so they can look out for the symptoms. I'm just so grateful that Eve is still here.

"We own Eve's life to the doctors and all the staff at Whiston Hospital."

Susan, along with her partner 31-year-old Stephen Bedson and nine-year-old son Alex, is now organising a sponsored ten-mile walk from St Helens to Rainford and back on March 15 to raise precious funds for Group B Strep Support.

To find out more about Strep B, or donate money for Susan's sponsored walk, click on the fundraising icon online at: www.gbss.org.uk