Terrified parents watched baby ‘gasping for air’ after catching Covid from them

Little Jack James was taken to hospital with worrying Covid symptoms (Image: Media Wales)

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A father has spoken of his terror after his baby boy was rushed into hospital gasping for breath with Covid-19 after catching it from his parents – both of whom had tested positive days previously.

The nightmare began between Christmas and New Year when Bonnie Saunders, a nurse in Carmarthen, started to have coronavirus symptoms, reports Wales Online.

She had only recently returned to work following maternity leave after the birth of her son Jack last year.

Aware of the significance of her symptoms, she arranged to have a Covid-19 test at the local testing station, which duly returned positive.

A few days later, her fiancé Alan James started to get similar symptoms, and he too then tested positive.

Mum Bonnie Saunders with son Jack
(Image: Media Wales)

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“I thought we were quite lucky at the time because when Bonnie was ill, I was able to look after Jack, who is only seven months old, and then when I became ill, she was on the mend so she was able to be with him,” said Mr James, a lecturer at Coleg Sir Gâr in Carmarthenshire.

“We both had the same symptoms – cough, temperature, flu-like symptoms – but the kids were all OK. They didn’t show any symptoms so we thought it would all pass without a problem.

“But then, on January 2, Jack fell ill.”

Mr James, who lives in Carmarthen, thought everything would be fine and that baby Jack would not contract the virus, or at least if he did, he would be able to bounce back from it quickly, like children often do with a range of illnesses.

“It was obvious before he was tested that it was the virus,” said Mr James. “His temperature was raging and he had a cough, and obviously he had been around the both of us who had tested positive. We arranged for him to be tested and it came back positive.

Little Jack was rushed to hospital gasping for air
(Image: Media Wales)

“The usual painkiller medicines were doing the trick in terms of keeping his temperature OK and his behaviour and general mood was quite normal so we kept him at home.

"But then on Monday night he started to wheeze heavily and he was really struggling to breathe. He was gasping for air.

“We rung the ambulance and they came out and took him to hospital.

"We don’t live that far from the hospital but because all three of us had Covid, and because of the seriousness of Jack’s situation, we phoned 999.

“I had never rung 999 before, and it’s not a nice experience because you’re dealing with a real emergency – I found that it’s really difficult to concentrate when you’re panicking.”

Jack was put in the ambulance and his mother Bonnie was allowed to go with him to hospital, where he was treated with steroids and given oxygen to help him breathe.

He was kept in all day and allowed home when his condition improved on Tuesday night.

Mr James said his son was now “on the mend” but his recovery might take some time, along with his own.

His partner's recuperation has been quicker, perhaps owing to the fact that she has already received the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.

“Bonnie, as part of her job, was given the first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine a few weeks ago, and she is due to have the second dose in due course.

“So, obviously, she caught coronavirus after being vaccinated but her symptoms were far milder than mine and Jack’s. Whether that’s the reason, I don’t know.

“He’s on the mend but it’s quite slow. It’s not like he has a cold as such, and he’s not sniffling, he’s just very lethargic and not himself, and he has a throaty cough.

"As for me, it’s been a week since I became ill and I’m still rough now.

"I consider myself to be reasonably fit and I don’t get ill often, but this has really knocked me back. I remember having the flu a few years ago but this is different. It hits you in the chest and just leaves you with no energy.”

He added: “I thought he would be OK because you don’t often hear of young children having it, or becoming ill with it, so the message always seems to be that young people don’t really get affected by coronavirus.

“Because of what I had read I was more concerned about Bonnie or myself getting it, so it was really shocking to see how it took hold of Jack and just how rapidly he went down with it.

“It just happened really quickly – the coughing, the temperature, and then the wheezing and the struggling to breathe.

Dad Alan wanted to raise awareness of potential symptoms in babies
(Image: Media Wales)

“I think it’s important to raise awareness that babies do get coronavirus and can become seriously ill with it. Our older children have been fine, they haven’t had any symptoms at all.

"Maybe that’s because they’re around us less, they spend time in their rooms or outside, whereas a baby is at your side or in your arms all day.

“As for poor Jack, he hasn’t been ill at all since he was born; he's never had a cough, not even a sniffle, so the first thing he’s ever caught has been Covid-19.”

He said the shock and terror of waiting for the paramedics to arrive as your baby gasped for breath continued to linger.

“It was hell,” said Mr James. “It was certainly the scariest thing I’ve experienced.”

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