'Hero' mum stages thank you concert
A MOTHER'S instincts – and the skill of hospital medics – saved a newborn baby struck down with meningitis when she was just one day old.
A strange sounding 'grunt' from little Jessica Pilling was enough to set alarm bells ringing in mum Nicola Pilling's mind.
Jessica was rushed to the University Hospital of North Staffordshire, where she was sent straight to the Cheetham's Ward and tested for meningitis.
Jessica tested positive for Group B streptococcus, also known as GBS, or neonatal meningitis – the most common cause of severe infection in newborn babies in the UK.
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Mum Nicola, aged 36, an NHS administrator, said: "She was a day old and we had been discharged from hospital in the morning.
"At about 8pm that night, she started making a grunting noise.
"I didn't attribute it to her breathing, I don't know whether it was a mothering instinct that told me something was not right, but we took her to hospital.
"She was referred to Cheethams and they did a lumbar puncture, which is where they take spinal fluid and test for meningitis.
"After that they started her on antibiotics.
"She stopped breathing and suffered two seizures. It was horrifying and so frightening."
GBS is carried by about 30 per cent of adults and pregnant women can pass it on to newborns at birth.
About 340 babies develop a GBS infection in the UK every year and those who survive can be left with speech, hearing, and vision problems, as well as learning disabilities.
But most cases of GBS infections can be prevented by giving antibiotics to at-risk pregnant women.
Thankfully, Jessica responded well to treatment, which was administered early enough to mean she has suffered no long-term effects.
Now, Jessica is preparing to celebrate her second birthday next month with her parents and doting sister Emma, aged five, at the family home in Sutherland Avenue, Dresden.
And, to say thank you to hospital staff and to charity GBS Meningitis UK for the support it provided, the family hope to raise around £3,000 at a charity concert to be held at the Britannia Stadium on September 21.
The concert stars well-known Potteries covers band Magnetic Jellyfish, which features Jessica's dad Keith Pilling on lead vocals.
The 37-year-old, a paint technician at JCB, said: "What happened to Jessica was the scariest thing I have ever had to go through in my life.
"I have got a lot to thank my wife for. She is a hero.
"I thought she was panicking, but she insisted something was badly wrong with Jessica. It was her, and the staff at Cheethams, who saved Jessica's life.
"We decided to put the concert on to say thank you to Cheethams and to GBS Meningitis UK.
"The band has been going for 12 years, we play indie rock covers. It is something we do for fun."
Already, 300 of the 350 tickets for the gig – which includes a raffle and auction – have been snapped up. To buy one of the remaining 50 tickets, call 07941 693011.