WHEN Ellie Henry was born six weeks prematurely, her mother Tracey was not tested for Group B streptococcus (GBS) – an infection- causing bug that kills 75 babies a year in the UK.
Two weeks later, as a result of GBS, Ellie contracted neonatal meningitis and had to be airlifted to Great Ormond Street children’s hospital, where doctors said she would not survive.
Against medical advice, Ms Henry refused to switch off her daughter’s life-support machine and Ellie pulled through, though is now registered blind, has cerebral palsy affecting all four limbs and severe epilepsy and needs 24- hour care.
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When Ms Henry was pregnant with her second daughter, Kayla, she insisted on the GBS test.
The bug was spotted and mother and daughter, born eight weeks early, were given antibiotics, helping Kayla to avoid the medical problems her sister had faced.
Six years on, healthy Kayla is preparing to tackle the Mini Great North Run in aid of the charity Group B Strep Support (GBSS).
Her mother said: “She said she wanted to do something that would stop Ellie being poorly.
“I said we couldn’t do that, but this will help stop other people getting poorly.
“Without help from GBSS, I could have had another disabled child.
“She’s always wanted to do the run but until now I’ve not thought she was old enough.”
The 1.5km children’s run takes place around Newcastle and Gateshead Quayside on Saturday – 24 hours ahead of the Great North Run itself.
Kayla, a pupil at Newton Hall Infants School, Durham, will be joined by Sarah Preston, Ellie’s carer.
Ms Tracey, 40, said: “Kayla’s absolutely amazing. She would do anything for her big sister.
She’s like her other carer.”
Ms Tracey, of Richmond Road, Newton Hall, is supporting GBSS’s campaign to make it law for pregnant women to be warned of the dangers of GBS and offered a test.
A UK National Screening Committee consultation runs until Tuesday, October 23. Systematic screening is currently not recommended.