A young mother forced to switch off her 10-day-old son’s life support machine after she unknowingly passed the herpes virus on to him during his birth has called for all pregnant women to be tested for the virus.
Bar worker Kira Aldcroft, 22, from Prestwich, Greater Manchester, had a healthy pregnancy before son Leo Aldcroft was born nine days premature on August 9.
The mother-of-one had never experienced any symptoms of genital herpes apart from thrush, which she claims nurses told her was a common side effect of being pregnant, and so did not know she was harbouring the dormant virus.
But just eight days after Leo’s birth, Miss Aldcroft’s dream turned into a living nightmare when her son was rushed to hospital with suspected sepsis after he began to bleed from his mouth, before sadly passing away this month on August 19.
Kira Aldcroft, 22, from Prestwich, pictured with her son Leo, who sadly died eight days after his birth
Miss Aldcroft, pictured when she was pregnant with Leo, has now spoken out for all women to be tested for the Herpes HSV2 virus
Leo, pictured, was placed in an induced coma after Miss Aldcroft unwittingly passed the Herpes HSV2 virus to her son during his delivery
Doctors discovered the 22-year-old was carrying the Herpes HSV2 virus – a type of genital herpes – which she had unwittingly passed to her son during his delivery.
Miss Aldcroft is now speaking out to raise awareness of the deadly virus – just days after Leo died- and is calling for herpes tests to become obligatory for all mothers-to-be.
She said: ‘I’ve always wanted to be a mum so being able to bring Leo home was just a dream come true, everything was finally perfect and everyone was happy.
‘But as Leo was laid there in hospital with doctors and nurses surrounding him, it was a mother’s worst nightmare.
‘I was physically sick when the herpes test came back positive, as I had done everything humanly possible to give my son the best start in life.
‘I could have contracted it before or during the pregnancy, as it can be dormant for months or years so there’s no way of telling.
‘I had no knowledge I had the virus, as there were no symptoms other than thrush, and if I had been offered a test during my pregnancy all this heartache could have been avoided.
‘I’m now urging men and women to get tested. That’s my message to everyone – not just pregnant women.
Baby Leo with Miss Aldcroft’s mother Karen Tunnah. Just hours after Leo was first rushed to hospital doctors told his mother his liver and kidneys were failing
‘I hope sharing Leo’s story will save other lives.’
Herpes has two strains, which are both dangerous to babies as their immune systems are yet to have fully developed to fight off the virus.
Type 1 can cause cold sores, while Type 2 typically causes genital herpes, and the virus can be passed onto newborn babies during vaginal delivery.
As Leo fought for his life in hospital, medics told Miss Aldcroft her son’s odds of surviving were dropping by the minute.
Unable to hold her baby boy, the 22-year-old and her mother Karen Tunnah had to look on helplessly as doctors fought to save his life.
Kira Aldcroft, 22, holding her son Leo after his birth. The 22-year-old is speaking out about her sad ordeal and also raising money for Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital
But on the Sunday morning – just hours after he was first rushed into hospital – doctors told her his liver and kidneys were failing and that they would have to put him on a dialysis machine in order to keep him alive.
Leo was then moved to a private room as Miss Aldcroft was told it was time to get her baby boy baptised.
Soon after, Kira and her mother were given the devastating news that medical staff had found a clot and swelling on Leo’s brain and that all his organs were failing.
It was then that Kira decided that her brave boy had suffered enough and she made the heartbreaking decision to turn off his life support machines.
She said: ‘As Leo lay in hospital, all I wanted to do was to hold and to kiss him and to tell him that everything would be alright.
Despite his short life, his mother Miss Aldcroft, said her son touched the lives of all he met
‘I told my baby boy to fight and that we were all on his side, and how much I loved him and wanted to return home with him.
‘Leo’s baptism was a nice moment to know I could bless him before he passed.
‘I wanted to get him christened at Christmas, but obviously his time came a lot sooner.
‘The consultant then told us his condition had worsened.
‘Once I knew the status of Leo’s health, I knew it was time for me as his mother to say ‘enough is enough’.
‘Once I’d decided that, I was then allowed to be next to him and be by his side.
‘I fell asleep with my head on his incubator and held his hand and when it was time to stop the machines, they let me hold him.
Leo, pictured not long after his birth. His mother is now channeling her grief into campaigning for all mothers-to-be
‘It was heartbreaking, as he took his last breaths in my arms, I held his hand and held him so close, and told him how proud I was of him.
‘The doctors then left the room, and let me and my family have our time alone and a chance to say goodbye.’
Despite his short life, Miss Aldcroft is adamant her son touched the lives of everyone he met.
After Leo’s death, the heartbroken mother was forced to return home, surrounded by the clothes and toys she had prepared for the tot just weeks before.
But she is now channelling her grief into campaigning for all mothers-to-be to undergo mandatory screening for all types of the herpes virus.
She said: ‘Leo was the calmest, happiest baby you’d ever meet.
‘He was a dream. I say to everyone he was born an angel.
‘He never cried until that night.
‘His death has been even harder because I came back to a house with all his things here.
‘I can see all the things here that would have been.’
Miss Aldcroft is raising money for Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital on Go Fund Me