Ned’s story inspires parents to back flu vaccination campaign

A couple who lost one of their identical twin baby sons to flu are campaigning for people to be vaccinated to prevent such tragedies happening to others.

Nikki Shaw, 32, and Dan Rowe, 36, from Market Harborough, had their sons Ned and Gus on December 7, 2018, at Leicester Royal Infirmary.

Six weeks later, on the morning of January 24, 2019, Nikki noticed Ned had suddenly become cold, grey and floppy. Ned was rushed to Kettering General Hospital in critical condition and later transferred to Addenbrookes Hospital in Cambridgeshire.

Dan, a secondary school teacher, said: “While we were there they did a virus screen on Ned. They found that he had the flu virus and had a rare complication of it.

“The damage caused by the effects of the virus had been too much. There had been a very specific, but significant, effect to one part of his brain which controlled his breathing. He couldn’t sustain his own breath.”

Nikki, a deputy head at a local school, said: “We realised our seven-week-old baby wasn’t ever going to get any better – and he wasn’t going to come home to his brother. On February 4 he passed away in our arms.”

In the 2018/19 flu season England saw 2,924 people admitted to intensive care/high dependency units because of the flu. Ned was one of 1,692 people who lost their lives to flu during this period, one of only three infants (0-4 years) to die.

Nikki had received the flu vaccination during her pregnancy which would have protected Ned from the most common forms of flu. Sadly he had developed a less common strain.

While vaccination did not protect Ned clearly it does protect a very large number of people from the virus – which can be deadly in all its forms. In 2018-2019 some 11.7 million people in England were vaccinated against it.

Nikki said: “By telling Ned’s story I want people to know how serious flu is. I want people to know how deadly it can be. I want people to talk about Ned. I want them to know what happened to him.

“I want them to take our message out into the world and I want them to get vaccinated. And I want them to get their friends vaccinated, and their family vaccinated. There is no reason why you shouldn’t have a vaccination if you are able to have one.”

Nikki and Dan have worked with Kettering General Hospital to produce the video above called Ned’s Story.

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