Heartbroken family has a reason to smile again

Claire and Kelvin Briggs of Columbia, Washington, with their daughters Alix aged five and Paige aged two.
Claire and Kelvin Briggs of Columbia, Washington, with their daughters Alix aged five and Paige aged two.
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A HEARTBROKEN family has ‘a reason to smile again’ with a baby on the way.

The lives of Claire and Kelvin Briggs were devastated when their baby son, Alfie, lost his 31-day battle for life after being born more than 15 weeks prematurely.

The couple set up a charity in his name, Just for Alfie, and have already raised thousands of pounds for Sunderland Royal’s Neonatal Unit.

Now the pair, along with daughters, Alix, six, and two-year-old Paige, are delighted to be awaiting the arrival of a new baby next spring.

Claire, 29, a University of Sunderland student, who is 17 weeks into her pregnancy, said: “We are really excited. It is giving us something to smile about again, for the kids as well, because they have found it very hard, it’s just something for them to look forward to.”

The mum is under the care of staff at Newcastle’s RVI hospital and says she is being well looked after and the pregnancy is going really well so far.

She said: “I’m sure when it comes to 24 weeks I will be walking on eggshells.”

Alfie was born in November last year, weighing 1lb 7oz, when Claire had to undergo an emergency Caesarean section.

At 10 days old he had minor heart surgery, his condition continued to improve and he was doing really well.

However, on December 5, the tiny youngster suddenly became ill and doctors discovered he was suffering from a serious condition, necrotizing enterocolitis, which caused his bowel to perforate.

Claire and roofer Kelvin, 25, were given the devastating news there was nothing more that could be done to save their son and took the agonising decision to withdraw care and cradle him for his last half an hour.

The Columbia pair have channelled their grief into the charity to help other battling premature babies and their families and to date have raised around £6,500.

Although, thrilled to be expecting again, Claire said the new baby could never replace Alfie and the experience is bitter sweet.

She said: “I keep thinking about Alfie at different times in the pregnancy, but I suppose that is only natural. Things just hit you at times, like when I was given a scan date on his birthday.

“We don’t care if the baby is a boy or girl, as long as it is healthy.”