Brave parents have spoken of their heartbreak after their “perfect baby” died just 17 days after being born.
Dan Burt and fiancée Kay-Marie Dors are mourning the loss of their baby girl Cora, and want to raise awareness of what happened to help other families.
The couple, who live in Langford near Bristol Airport, have also set up a JustGiving page to fundraise for the hospital ward where she died.
Miss Dors, 31, said: “We have got to celebrate her life, however short it was, and raise awareness that if you feel something is wrong, you have got to get it checked.
“If we can help at least one family to not have to go through what we are going through, then I’ll be happy.”
Cora was the couple’s third child, and was born at the end of April at St Michael’s Hospital in Bristol.
She appeared to be healthy and passed all the newborn tests, and spent a happy two weeks at home.
On May 8 she became very sleepy and refused to have her milk, and Miss Dors said she felt she “knew something wasn’t right” even though there were no signs of illness.
They rang 111 and paramedics arrived, who took her to Bristol Children’s Hospital.
Cora soon began having seizures and breathing struggles, and her parents faced a desperate wait while doctors carried out a series of tests.
Miss Dors said: “It was just horrific, to see her with tubes all over her. She looked so tiny.
“We still had no idea what was going on and why she had gone downhill so fast. She was sedated and looked so peaceful.”
She urged anyone else who has that mum’s intuition to make sure they get checked out as soon as possible, as one comfort is knowing that they did everything they could to try to save her.
Eventually they learnt Cora had developed an infection called beta-hemolytic strep sepsis, and inflammation of the brain called encephalitis.
Doctors explained she had suffered serious brain damage and even if she did recover, she would not be able to breathe by herself, walk, talk or eat.
Reliving the heartbreaking realisation on the JustGiving page, Miss Dors wrote: “We knew we had to let our little girl go.
“Never in a million years would I ever think that I would be letting my child leave us, but I had to remember it was the only fair thing for her, even though my heart was being ripped out of my chest.
“We had our time and said what we needed to say, kissed her, stroked her face, held her hand, kissed her more.”
She and her fiance Mr Burt, a 30-year-old forklift driver, were unable to face the trauma of watching their little girl die.
Mr Burt’s mum and aunt sat holding Cora’s hands in her final moments, and she died on May 10, just two days after admission.
Writing on the fundraising page, Miss Dors said: “Holding my baby, she had gone, wrapped up in her blanket with her bunny and Teddy she was handed to me.
“My little girl looked so peaceful. She passed peacefully and was surrounded with love. She looked perfect as she always did.
“I cannot explain the pain you feel. Emptiness, numbness, there is no explanation.”
She said she went into “automatic mum mode” as the pair have had to stay strong for their daughter, aged seven, and son, aged 11.
The lockdown restrictions meant Cora had never even had the chance to cuddle up to her grandparents or other immediate family members, who had only been able to see her from afar.
However, the couple say they want to take what few positives they can out of their ordeal, and help to repay the clinicians who tried to save Cora’s life.
The money raised will be partly put towards The Grand Appeal, which is the Bristol Children’s Hospital charity.
Cora was cared for there at the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU), and Miss Dors described the staff there as “walking angels”.
They are also organising a fun day in Cora’s memory, which will be held when the lockdown restrictions have been lifted and when it is safe for people to gather again.
More than £1,200 has been donated already and anyone who wishes to support the family can find the fundraising page here.