A first-time mum has spoken of the heartbreaking moment she held her seven-week-old baby’s hand as he lost his battle for life.
Emma Pentith, 20, from Masham, North Yorkshire, and partner Liam Breckon, 21, from Bedale, held a bedside vigil for son Jenson Breckon after he was born with bowel condition gastroschisis on October 2.
After a number of surgeries in his first few weeks at Newcastle’s RVI hospital - his first when he was just seven hours old - it was hoped Jenson would be able to survive the condition. He was progressing well, gaining strength, and after 19 days his family were finally able to lift him from his cot and give him his first cuddles.
But after his fourth surgery, Jenson developed an infection he couldn’t fight and died despite a team of doctors’ best efforts to revive the youngster.
As the family battle with their grief, Emma says she’s found some comfort in the fact that she and Liam could be there for their little boy in his final hours.
Speaking about that night on November 21, Emma said: “We couldn’t help but watch the monitor, something I’ll never ever forget is that flat line. It’s something you think you only ever see on films or TV programmes. We had hoped his heart rate would pick up but at 11.30pm that night Jenson grew his angel wings - he was too perfect for earth.”
Despite only being seven-weeks-old, Jenson had started to show his character and his close-knit family were looking forward to bringing him home to their cottage in Masham.
Emma, a barmaid at the Bay Horse pub in the town, said: “He was so cheeky even though he was only seven-weeks-old when he died. He was a total daddy’s boy to the point where if Liam was there on a night and left to go home because he had to go to work or to sleep he would cry for about an hour because he knew he’d left, and there was nothing that could stop him.”
Jenson was born weighing 4lbs 5oz and doctors were confident that after recovering from surgery he’d eventually be able to go home and lead a regular life.
His first two operations, which included putting his bowels back inside his body, were a success.
A complication following the procedure, however, led to a further six hour surgery to insert a Gore-tex patch to give his body more room to adjust to the bowel.
It was after this procedure at 19-days-old that he was moved to a ward and Emma and Liam, who works at Hanson’s Quarry in Ripon, were able to finally hold their son, change his nappy and Emma could breast feed.
All was going well until one night when Emma was cuddling him and his stitches burst in her hand, a rare complication, and Jenson had to undergo yet another gruelling surgery in his short life.
Another patch was added during this final surgery, under which Jenson developed an infection. His condition worsened over the course of the day on November 21 and he was taken into intensive care.
Emma and Liam were taken into a room where they were given the devastating news of their son’s critical condition.
“I literally ran to his bed while they were trying to stop me,” explained the mum. “When we went into the cubicle there was about 10 to 15 nurses, doctors and surgeons round his tiny little body doing everything they could.
“He was on morphine and ketamine, adrenaline, blood transfusion, heart monitors. It was horrible to see. His heart rate was really low and the surgeon told us that it wasn’t looking good.
We held his hand and his heart rate picked up, which made us feel that he knew we were there even though he was so spaced out.”
Emma, Liam and their family members had spent seven weeks by Jenson’s side and were supported throughout by The Sick Children’s Trust who they are now helping with a fundraising drive.
Instead of making the trek from North Yorkshire to Newcastle each day, Jenson’s family were able to stay at Crawford House on site, a home from home for people whose children are poorly.
It means families aren’t faced with expense of hotels and are only a stone’s throw from the wards in case of an emergency.
Emma had hoped to raise £100 in Jenson’s memory for the charity but people have already donated more than £1,400 in the little battler’s name.
Emma said: “I can’t believe how generous people have been after hearing our story. I feel that raising money for the charity will help them keep the house going for other families when
they need it and will help buy essentials for the house. It’s also a way of saying thank you for everything they did for us while Jenson was so poorly.”
•To donate to The Sick Children’s Trust in Jenson’s name search for “Emma’s birthday fundaiser for The Sick Children’s Trust” on Facebook where you can donate through the page until February.