A HEARTBROKEN Wearside mum has launched a petition to have the condition which killed her baby more widely recognised.
Alfie Briggs, who was born 15 weeks prematurely, died suddenly when he was struck down by the bowel condition Necrotising Enterocolitis, NEC.
Now, his devastated mum Claire has launched a petition to urge the Government to introduce compulsory training to neonatal staff regarding understanding of NEC and for parent information leaflets to be made available.
NEC, which happens when the tissue in the intestine begins to die off, is estimated to kill about 1,000 premature babies in Britain every year.
However, 29-year-old Claire and her husband, Kelvin, 26, had never heard of the condition until Alfie became seriously ill.
Despite the tot being born last November at 25 weeks into his mum’s pregnancy and weighing just 1lb 7oz, he was going from strength to strength, much to the delight of his family,.
But at 30 days old, his condition suddenly deteriorated.
Claire, who lives in Columbia, Washington, said: “On the Thursday morning he seemed unwell and had to go back onto the ventilator. On the Thursday night it was discovered he had NEC, but by then he was too poorly to be operated on.”
Just hours later, doctors at Sunderland Royal broke the devastating news there was nothing more could be done for Alfie, so Claire and Kelvin made the heartbreaking decision to withdraw his care and he died in their arms on December 5 last year.
The couple, who are also parents to Alix, six, and two-year-old Paige, have nothing but praise for staff at the hospital’s neonatal unit.
Claire, who is now expecting her fourth child, said: “The care Alfie got was fantastic and I could never thank them enough. I just want more people to be aware of this.
“Maybe if the NEC had been diagnosed earlier, he could have been operated on sooner. Maybe the outcome would have been the same, but we will never know.” University of Sunderland student Claire and roofer Kelvin have raised thousands of pounds for the neonatal unit in memory of Alfie.
Since launching her petition, Claire says she has heard from lots of parents whose babies have contracted NEC and many have said they had never been given any prior information about it, so didn’t know what symptoms to look out for.
According to the charity, Action Medical Research for Children, about 3,000 babies a year are affected and about 35 per cent of them die.
If Claire can get 10,000 signatures, it will warrant a written response from the Government, and 100,000 means it will be considered for debate. To find out more, visit Alfie’s fundraising page www.facebook.com/justforalfie where there is a link to the petition.