Mom Issues Devastating Warning After A Simple Kiss Likely Resulted In Her Baby’s Death At Just 14 Days Old

A heartbroken mum has paid tribute to her gorgeous little girl, who died at just 14 days old of the herpes simplex virus—saying doctors believe the tiny baby was killed by a kiss.

Delighted to welcome their daughter, Kiara, into the world on July 30 this year, Kelly Ineson, 30,  and her warehouse worker fiancé Thomas Cummins’ joy swiftly gave way to heartbreak when, just days later, on August 13, they watched as, one by one, the machines keeping her alive were turned off.

Now, through raw grief, Kelly, of Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, England is issuing a stark warning not to kiss other people’s babies, saying:

“Doctors have told us that Kiara most likely contracted the virus through someone kissing her.”

Kiara before she became unwell (PA Real Life/Collect)

She continued:

“We were always so careful, not letting anyone near her if they seemed poorly, or hadn’t washed their hands. We’ve been asked if we remember anyone with a cold sore kissing her, but we don’t, and would never have let that happen.”

“I’ve been going over every little detail of what happened in my mind, desperate to find an answer as to exactly what happened, but I don’t think I’ll ever get one—and that’s what’s killing me.”

“I never in my worst nightmares imagined a kiss could kill my baby, and I don’t want any other parents to go through this.”

Kiara in hospital at 13 days old (PA Real Life/Collect)

Stay-at-home mum Kelly, who has three other children, Brandon, 11, Jamielea, 10, and Harry, eight, from a previous relationship, recalled her elation when she discovered she was pregnant in November 2017.

Her first child with Thomas, 26, she said the dad-to-be “literally leapt with joy” at the happy news.

She recalled:

“When I told my other children, they couldn’t wait. Jamielea was hysterical, she was that excited, and the boys were thrilled to have another sister on the way.”

Kelly, Thomas and Kiara when she was three days old (PA Real Life/Collect)

But, Kelly’s pregnancy was not an easy one. A routine screening test offered to all pregnant women between 10 and 14 weeks revealed that her baby had a five per cent chance of having Down’s Syndrome.

She continued:

“I met with a specialist and they talked about termination, but that simply wasn’t an option.”

“The way I saw it was if she had Down’s Syndrome, she had Down’s Syndrome. I knew whatever happened, I’d deal with it and love her just the same.”

Kelly’s 21 week scan, when she found out she was expecting a girl (PA Real Life/Collect)

Then Kelly’s labor, which began on July 29—with Kiara arriving the following day—was fraught with difficulties

After experiencing cramps and feeling an alarming “gushing” sensation, she phoned the hospital.

Kelly said:

“At first, they said the contractions were too far apart, but asked me to keep timing them and call them back. Eventually, they got closer and closer together, and it was time to go in.”

She continued:

When I got to A&E, a nurse asked me for a urine sample—but it came out completely green, almost like mint sauce.

“I was really panicking then, especially when they told me it was because Kiara had pooed in the womb. I knew that could be really dangerous.”

With both Kelly and Kiara becoming distressed, doctors decided the safest course of action was to perform an emergency caesarean.

Brandon (L) and Harry (R) holding Kiara before she became poorly (PA Real Life/Collect)

She continued:

“I was on gas and air, so things are a little hazy, but I remember them getting Kiara out and hearing nothing—no crying.”

“I just lay there feeling helpless, as doctors rushed around. I got a two second glance as they whisked her out, then couldn’t see her again for hours.”

So that doctors could stabilize Kiara, who had struggled to breathe when she was first born, and to ensure she had not swallowed any of her feces during labor, doctors kept her incubated in hospital for 48 hours, hooked up to antibiotics.

Jamielea with Kiara before she got ill (PA Real Life/Collect)

But, by August 1, both she and Kelly were well enough to go home.

Kelly recalled:

“I was really happy with Kiara’s progress, as were the doctors. Things seemed absolutely fine. She had lovely rosy pink cheeks and was healthily gaining weight. She settled in right away at home.”

But a routine midwife check at 10 days old found that Kiara’s weight had suddenly dropped from 6lb 11oz to below her 6lb 5oz birth weight.

Kiara before she became unwell (PA Real Life/Collect)

Worried, Kelly and Thomas raced their daughter to hospital, where doctors ran urgent tests, concluding that she had an infection—although they were not sure exactly what kind.

Transferred to a more specialized hospital, for the next four days, the young parents were plunged into emotional turmoil, as Kiara’s oxygen levels continued to drop and the infection began to shut down her kidneys, which needed urgent dialysis to remove waste products.

Continued Kelly:

“It was horrendous. I couldn’t help but think  of the worst case scenario. Every time we got a little bit of hope, something else would happen.”

Kiara when she first arrived at hospital at 10 days old (PA Real Life/Collect)

She added:

“I remember once popping out of the ward to get a cup of tea and some fresh air, and Kiara’s oxygen levels dropped while I was gone.”

“I came back to see all these doctors running to her bedside and I just crumbled. I think, deep down, I knew then that she wouldn’t survive.”

“Even though doctors stabilized her, I couldn’t help but look at her hooked up to all those machines, with an oxygen mask on, and wonder how she was going to pull through.”

Kelly holding Kiara for the first time when she was 24 hours old (PA Real Life/Collect)

In time, doctors discovered that Kiara had contracted a strain of the herpes simplex virus.

Highly contagious, the virus is most commonly known as the cause of cold sores or genital sores in adults—but can be fatal to a baby, whose immune system will not have fully developed.

According to The Herpes Viruses Association, many people will be unaware that they even carry it, with only one in three exhibiting symptoms that lead to a diagnosis.

With newborns, the virus can be passed on either by a kiss, or by the mother if she has had genital herpes for the first time within the last six weeks of pregnancy.

The risk is significantly reduced if she has had it prior to pregnancy, as she will have passed on the antibodies needed to fight it.

Said Kelly:

“Before this, like most people, I thought of herpes as an STI. But it’s actually a virus that many people may not realize they carry.”

“There’s nowhere near enough information about herpes out there. Even those in the medical profession need to be much more aware of it, and the damage it can cause.”

Kiara in hospital at 13 days old (PA Real Life/Collect)

Tragically, at 13 days old, Kiara’s parents were told the virus had led to her developing deadly sepsis —where the body attacks itself in response to an infection.

Their baby was placed in an induced coma to give her a chance to fight but, devastatingly, they were informed that, even if she miraculously pulled through, she would probably be severely brain damaged.

Said Kelly:

“We begged doctors to do what they could, but it was no use. We were essentially told that we’d be waiting for her to die. I couldn’t hear any more. I just broke down, running down the corridor screaming until I collapsed.”

Kiara’s cot containing her ashes and some precious keepsakes (PA Real Life/Collect)

She added:

“I knew Thomas and I had a horrendous decision to make. It was incredibly hard, but in the end, we agreed with the doctors to let her go with peace and dignity, rather than prolong her suffering.”

“Our family all came to say goodbye, then left us two with her while, one by one, all the machines keeping her alive were removed. She passed away at 6:32pm on August 13—the worst moment of my life.”

After laying Kiara to rest in a poignant butterfly-themed service on August 29—before bringing her ashes home to where they sit today, by her bedside—Kelly vowed to do all she could to raise awareness of the herpes simplex virus.

Kiara’s funeral program (PA Real Life/Collect)

With the support of the Herpes Viruses Association, she is speaking out for the first time, urging other parents to realize the dangers of letting people kiss their newborn babies.

Kelly said:

“Breaking the news to my other children was one of the hardest parts of this. They understand Kiara isn’t coming back, but they never saw her in hospital, so I’m glad their memories of her will always be of her at home healthy.”

“All I want now is for parents and doctors alike to educate themselves on the herpes simplex virus and how devastating it can be. It’s not something you ever dream of looking out for, but it can destroy lives.”

“It’s very hard for us thinking about Kiara and what she’d be doing if she was here. She should be getting ready for her first Christmas, but instead we have to struggle with all these unanswered questions. All we can do is take it one day at a time.”

Kelly cuddling Kiara when she was 24 hours old (PA Real Life/Collect)

Marian Nicholson, director of the Herpes Viruses Association says:

“Please don’t kiss other people’s babies. You might be one of the people who has cold sores that are so mild you haven’t noticed them—yet your mild infection could be transferred to a new baby. Catching cold sores before the baby is six to nine months old can be serious, as their immune systems aren’t well developed.”

“Mothers with cold sores should not worry about kissing their own babies, because during the last months of pregnancy, a mother who has had cold sores passes protective antibodies for this virus to her baby through the placenta.”

“And if mum has not had cold sores herself, then a dad with a cold sore should not kiss his baby. Also, dads need to be careful not to pass on cold sore virus to mums in the last stages of pregnancy because by then it may be too late for her to develop the antibodies her baby needs. Then the new baby will have no protection when it is born.”

A version of this article originally appeared on Press Association.

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