Mum warns parents never to kiss newborns after her baby was nearly killed by meningitis

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Krystal Hayes, 26, and her partner John Gresham, 30, were terrified when their nine-day-old child Gunner was rushed to A&E

Mum warns parents never to kiss newborns after her baby was nearly killed by meningitis

A mum dubbed ‘Aunty Kissy’ has warned parents not to kiss their babies after her newborn nearly died from meningitis .

Mum Krystal was devastated after finding out meningitis could be transferred by a kiss (Image: MERCURY PRESS)

Krystal Hayes, 26, and her partner John Gresham, 30, were terrified when their nine-day-old child Gunner was rushed to A&E with a high temperature and rapid breathing.

The couple knew something was wrong when the child cried simply from being touched but her ‘world came crashing down’ when she was told that the baby had viral meningitis.

However Krystal, from Worksop in Nottinghamshire, said she was devastated when doctors informed her it could have been transferred by an innocent kiss.

Thankfully, the youngster, who is now 15-weeks-old, has made a full recovery as the meningitis was caught early.

Hospital porter Krystal is now determined to raise awareness to prevent other families from going through anything similar and warn parents not to kiss newborns.

Krystal said: “As a parent I couldn’t think of anything worse than not kissing my baby before but I can now. This was one thousand times worse.

“I smother my kids in kisses, even my friends and relative kids. I’m actually called Aunty Kissy for that reason.

“I will cuddle until my heart’s content but never will I kiss another newborn than doesn’t belong to me and never will I kiss any of my new babies, if I have any more, on or around their mouths again.

Nine-day-old child Gunner was rushed to A&E with a high temperature and rapid breathing

“The worry and pain we felt that day was beyond words and wasn’t worth a thousand kisses. I know first hand.

“My whole world came crashing down. I thought, I can’t lose my baby.

“I just kept thinking, what if he loses a limb or has brain damage? What are we going to tell Graicae? [correct spelling, daughter, two] How are we ever going to get through this?

“It’s hard to explain how I felt. It was a bit of a blur. It’s all the things you don’t bear thinking about and when it happened you can’t process it.

“It still doesn’t feel real. It feels like it was a bit of a dream. I just hoped he would be alright. It all happened so quickly.

“We couldn’t understand how such a young baby got meningitis. You beat yourself up. We thought it might have been something we had done.

“It could’ve been a hell of a lot worse. It’s just one of those things we have to be grateful for. We are really lucky.

“Just an innocent kiss. Nothing more than a form of affection from someone who would love him and want no harm to ever come to him. Something so natural to do with a precious baby.

“We wouldn’t blame anyone. It could have been us. Never would I have thought a kiss would hurt someone.

“My heartfelt advice to anyone is don’t kiss a newborn baby and don’t let anyone kiss your baby.

“They may feel well, look well and have no signs or symptoms of anything going on, but those tiny dormant viruses could be fatal.”

John first saw that something was wrong when he got up at 4am on May 29 to feed Gunner and noticed he was warm but assumed it was due to the hot weather and took the blanket off him.

The next morning, Gunner was still quite warm and his temperature had reached 38.9. The parents took his vest off and he started crying when they touched him.

His breathing then became very fast and the couple knew something wasn’t right and called a midwife, who told them to go to A&E immediately.
Krystal said: “They say you get a mother’s instinct and I think that’s what made me think we needed to take his temperature.

“They brought him straight into children’s department in A&E they put him on a monitor and took his temperature and then he just started to deteriorate rapidly.

“I knew he was poorly but I didn’t realise how serious it was. Things happened so quickly.”

When they arrived at Bassetlaw District General Hospital Gunner’s heart rate was between 200- 222bpm at its peak and he quickly went into resuscitation.

He then started convulsions, seizures that happen because of a fever, due to his temperature and he was barely responsive.

Blood and urine tests were taken along with an X-ray which all came back as clear, IV antibiotics were given along with paracetamol and ibuprofen to try and reduce his temperature.

After Gunner was stabilised he was taken to the children’s ward before being taken away by the doctors to perform a lumbar puncture in the lower part of his spine to test for infections such as meningitis.

The couple are determined to raise awareness to prevent similar diagnoses (Image: MERCURY PRESS)
Krystal said: “We could hear him from the room crying. Everything runs through your mind at that moment. I just sat and cried. The reality hit that it was serious. It was awful.

“I don’t think I’ve ever been so scared. I read about it all the time but I don’t think the reality of it ever really hits close to home until it happens to you or someone you know.”

An ambulance then took the family to Doncaster Royal Infirmary where it was confirmed that he had viral meningitis and continued his antibiotics and added some anti-viral drugs to his IV prescription.

Gunner hadn’t shown any of the more recognisable symptoms of meningitis, such as change in appetite, being sensitive light, stiff neck or cold hands and feet and only developed red spots later on.

Krystal said: “It could have been transferred by someone who was ill. They said viruses can live in you without being known so you might not have any symptoms but it could be transferred by a kiss.

“I don’t think you realise as a parent that something so simple can be so dangerous.

“It is just one of those things. It could have been anything. There are certain things you can’t protect him from. Such as, walking past someone who has just sneezed, you can’t avoid them.

“I don’t know what the outcome would have been if we didn’t realise. It doesn’t bare thinking about.

The youngster hadn’t shown any of the more recognisable symptoms of meningitis (Image: MERCURY PRESS)
“If it had happened at night, that could have been where he really plummeted and that’s the really worrying thing.

“Nothing struck me that he might have had meningitis when we took him to hospital. That’s the scary thing about it.

“There is going to be a lot of criticism because it doesn’t happen to every baby. I didn’t have any problems with my other child. She didn’t have any problems but it did to Gunner.

“That risk is always there no matter how harmless it may seem. I’ve got a lot of friends who are having babies and I thought this needed more awareness.

“If one person takes note and doesn’t let people kiss their baby than that’s all that matters.

“A friend of mine with four kids told me she was so embarrassed that she didn’t know this.

“You don’t realise things can be going on behind the surface. We have immune systems that they don’t.

“I just didn’t expect it was something I would have to go through. You want to show your baby off.”

Gunner, who is now 15 weeks old, has made a full recovery as the meningitis was caught early (Image: MERCURY PRESS)

A spokesperson from Meningitis Now said: “Anyone can get viral meningitis but it is most common in babies and young children. Viral meningitis is not usually life-threatening, but can lead to more complications in young babies.

“Many different types of viruses can cause viral meningitis. Spread of these viruses is common and they can be passed from person to person by coughing, sneezing and on unwashed hands.

“Attention to good general hygiene measures, such as hand washing, will help to stop the spread of some of these viruses.

“Anyone with a cold sore (herpes simplex virus) should not kiss a young baby as there is a risk of the virus being passed on, which could cause an illness such as viral meningitis in a young baby.”

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