The family of a new North East mum thought she was going to die after she contracted a life-threatening infection after giving birth in a Darlington hospital – leaving her with a wound eight inches wide and eight inches deep.

Becky Ross has been left unable to climb stairs, walk, or hold her new baby, and she has had to relocate to a bungalow to accommodate her needs after contracting necrotising fasciitis and sepsis, and has felt “disgusted and ashamed” of her illness.

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The 29-year-old, who lives in Newton Aycliffe, went to Darlington Memorial Hospital to be induced into labour but ended up having an emergency C-section on October 20 to give birth to little Harry, who was born weighing 7 pounds (lb) 3 ounces (oz).

However, in the days after giving birth, Becky experienced mounting pain, which she initially put down to her epidural, though it later became clear to Becky and her family that something was seriously wrong. Despite this, she was discharged four days later. 

County Durham and Darlington NHS Trust have apologised for Ms Ross’ ‘recent experience’ but said an independent cleanliness assessment carried out highlighted “no areas of concern”.

But Ms Ross and her family think that this is not enough, as Ms Ross says that her ‘confidence has been whipped away and my life wrecked’.

It comes only weeks after the Care Quality Commission (CQC) found that maternity services across the country were worsening "time and time again", with 47 per cent of maternity services now ranked as requiring improvement, and six per cent per cent as inadequate.  Darlington Memorial Hospital’s maternity services were rated as good in their latest inspection.

Ms Ross said: “I felt disgusted and ashamed. My belly was rock hard, and I was so sick I couldn't even speak.

“I can't climb the stairs, or even lay down, so I am having to sleep on my mum’s couch.

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Donna Apperley, Becky's mother, explained that she took her daughter back to hospital on the advice of a midwife after Becky passed large blood clots, but was told by Darlington Hospital that the condition was "a typical ladies’ infection and nothing to worry about."

She said: "On October 27, I asked for the doctors for a second opinion, or to change hospitals, as Becky was deteriorating, but was told we couldn't have one. I was literally watching her die before my eyes."

Ms Apperley said that the impact that the infection had had on the whole family had been "immense".

She said: "It has been hugely stressful, and I don't want any other family going through what we have been through."

Ms Ross said that she has felt ‘heartbroken’ that she has ‘not been able to bond’ with her son Harry, who was born seven pounds and three ounces.

‘All of the pictures I have of him from the first few weeks of his life are from the hospital. They have wrecked what should be a happy time – I should be able to have my son as a priority, not my illness.’

Ms Apperly believes that the impact of the infection on her daughter is likely to be lifelong: "You can't imagine the damage that they have done to her stomach.

"This is her first baby, and we don't know if she will be able to carry another child, because the scar tissue means her belly can't stretch."

A spokesperson for County Durham and Darlington NHS Trust said: "We are extremely sorry to hear Becky’s feelings about her recent experience with our maternity services.

"The team is already discussing this further with Becky and her family and an investigation is underway to understand more.

"We carry out regular and intensive cleaning routines and, following these discussions, an additional independent cleanliness assessment was carried out which highlighted no areas of concern.

"Once the investigation is complete we will ensure its findings are shared with Becky and her family and that any improvements needed are put in place."

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