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Byline: Kim Willis

WHEN loving mum Kirsty Carrington embraced her eight-week-old boy it was nearly the kiss of death.

Doting Kirsty was heartbroken when just 24 hours after kissing tiny Ole-John he was rushed to hospital with a soaring temperature and breathing problems. Doctors warned he may not survive as he struggled to respond to treatment.

At first it was a mystery why her beautiful baby was on death's door. When Kirsty, 28, discovered the truth she was horrified.

She had passed on a potentially fatal virus through a cold sore on her lips.

Kirsty said: "I'd never do anything to hurt my kids. I kissed my baby because I loved him and I'm devastated to think how close I came to killing him."

She has had cold sores since her teenage years and they can come back once a month.

And although Kirsty does not kiss partner Chris Nixon, 31, during an outbreak she had no idea how dangerous the herpes simplex virus can be for babies.

It can spread to their brain and other organs, causing potentially permanent and fatal damage.

She said: "I didn't know much about it. I don't remember how it started but knew I'd have it for life. I'd put cold sore cream on the blister when it appeared and wait for it to go away."


Kirsty, who already had seven-year-old twins Lilly and Kendra with Chris, was overjoyed when Ole-John was born in January.

She said: "We were so happy to have our son.

"He was cute as a button and I showered him in kisses just as I had the girls as babies."

When Ole-John was eight weeks Kirsty felt the familiar tingling feeling and a cold sore appeared on her lip.

In the UK, seven in ten people have the herpes simplex virus but only one in five of those have recurring cold sores.

She said: "I knew I wasn't suppose to have skin-to-skin contact during a flare up. But I made a mistake.

"I forgot the cold sore was even there as I kissed little Ole-John. And my mistake nearly cost my baby his life."

Posting on Facebook, Kirsty, of Doncaster, S Yorks, asked friends if she should be worried.

They told her cold sores can be very dangerous for babies but Ole-John seemed alert and content. To be on the safe side, Kirsty called her doctor but couldn't get an appointment, so she took her baby to the chemist for advice.

"Ole-John was fast asleep. The pharmacist said cold sores were most dangerous at the oozing stage but mine was already scabbing over. He said we should just keep an eye on the baby." Kirsty returned home, hoping for the best. Ole-John seemed fine.

The next day he slept a lot but was off his food. By the evening, he seemed hot and irritable. His cry had changed, becoming high pitched and distressed.

Kirsty said: "His temperature had climbed from a normal 36.4degC to 39.6degC so we were starting to panic. We gave him half a dose of Calpol."

"We knew at only eight weeks he was too young for Calpol but we'd given very small doses for a chest infection a few weeks before."

Ole-John slept but woke two hours later and screamed when his parents tried to pick him up.

Kirsty said: "By midnight his temperature was up to 40.2degC. I called 111.

"They suggested I wait until the doctors' surgery opened in the morning but I insisted something wasn't right with him.

"His breathing was rapid, he was agitated and hot. So they called us an ambulance." Chris stayed at home with the twins while Kirsty and Ole-John were taken to Rotherham Hospital.

Nurses took his temperature, which was down to 38.9degC but Ole-John screamed as a doctor tried to take him out of his car seat. He was squinting and his eyes shut under the florescent strip lights of the hospital, Ole-John was showing classic signs of meningitis.

Kirsty said: "Everything was so panicked and chaotic."

All Kirsty wanted to do was comfort her little boy but when she touched him he flinched.

She said: "He was so agitated and I couldn't help him.

"He was struggling to breath and started jerking involuntarily. His eyes were firmly shut and he was making such a distressed sound."

Doctors warned Ole-John would need a lumbar puncture to diagnose his illness.

Kirsty, who still did not link her cold sore with Ole-John's raging temperature, had endured the procedure herself so knew how painful it would be for her acutely sick son.


She said: "I was so upset but knew it would help. We were put in quarantine and the doctors dressed up in impermeable suits and gloves to enter the room."

"When the twins visited, they were only allowed to wave through a window in case they passed on any infections. It was a scary, lonely time." Ole-John continued to fight for his life and 48 hours after he was admitted to hospital, a new doctor came to see the family.

Kirsty said: "He told us Ole-John wasn't responding to any treatment. He asked us if anyone in the family had suffered any serious infections or illnesses recently.

"I suddenly jumped to my feet, shouting about my cold sore. I told him I'd gone to the chemist to have it checked."

The doctor inspected Kirsty's cold sore, which was healing but still visible. He asked if she had kissed the baby.

Kirsty said: "Panic rose in my voice as I admitted that I had. The doctor said he was in a critical condition but they could now try a different treatment plan." The herpes virus had travelled to the tiny baby's brain.

He was diagnosed with meningoencephalitis - the tissues covering his brain and the brain itself were infected.

Meningoencephalitis involving the herpes simplex virus is a medical emergency. It is fatal in one in three of all cases and those who survive face brain damage, sight and hearing problems.

Ole-John's eyes and head swelled as his battle continued. Kirsty said: "I sat beside him Googling meningoencephalitis, Ole-John's eye and head swelled a his battle continued. Kirsty said"I sat besid him Googlin meningoencephalitis - terrifying myself terrifying myself that I'd killed him. Full of guilt, I begged him to pull through."

Once the doctors had a diagnosis, they were able to administer antiviral medication and within 24 hours, the baby's temperature came back down and he opened his eyes.

Kirsty said: "The first time he smiled at me, I burst into tears. I knew my boy was back."

After six days in hospital, Ole-John was discharged. But the ordeal is far from over.

Kirsty said: "The doctors say we can only wait and see what the long term implications are. It's too soon to know if he has any brain damage or developmental problems.

"He's still not himself. He's sleeping a lot and is still agitated. But he smiles when he sees us now. I know that his hearing and sight survived.

"I didn't realise how dangerous my kiss could be.

"I kissed Ole-John because I love him, yet I nearly killed him. I hope my story serves as a warning to other cold sore sufferers - whatever you do, if you have a flare up, don't kiss your baby."

If you have a flare up of cold sores don't kiss your baby


LUCKY TO BE ALIVE Kirtsy craddles her beautiful baby boy Ole-John who spent days at death's door

RECOVERY: Tot wakes after nearly dying

DESPERATELY SICK: Ole fights for his life DE SIC for

BABY LOVE: Ole before the kiss BAB

HEALTHY: Mum and son pre-illness
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Publication:The People (London, England)
Date:Apr 3, 2016
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