Dad's relief after baby recovers from potentially-fatal illness

Tom Williams, with his baby Spencer., who shortly after his birth was diagnosed with an infection ca

Tom Williams, with his baby Spencer, who shortly after his birth was diagnosed with an infection called Group B Streptococcal. Tom and his family are looking forward to the New Year - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

A family have woken up to 2022 thankful to still have their baby after he recovered from a potentially-fatal infection.

Primary school teacher Tom Williams, from Sudbury, had not really heard of Group B Streptococcal, but found himself on a steep learning curve when his son Spencer was diagnosed with the illness after birth.

Group B strep is normally harmless for most people, but it can cause serious illness - and even lead to death - in young babies.

Fay, Finley, Spencer and Tom Williams are looking forward to the New Year as a family of four

Fay, Finley, Spencer and Tom Williams are looking forward to the New Year as a family of four - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

After Spencer's birth by caesarean at West Suffolk Hospital on May 8, 2021, tests were carried out as he kept sleeping and wasn't wanting to feed.

Mr Williams said an X-ray revealed he had a hole in his lung - which did close - and he was treated with antibiotics in case he had an infection.

Two days later, the family were told Spencer had Group B strep.

Tom Williams, from Sudbury, wants to raise awareness of Group B strep after Spencer was diagnosed with it after birth

Tom Williams, from Sudbury, wants to raise awareness of potentially-fatal Group B strep after Spencer was diagnosed with it after birth - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

Mr Williams, 36, who teaches at Pot Kiln Primary School in Great Cornard, said: "The hole in the lung was a blessing in disguise. He basically had 48 hours of antibiotics as like a headstart."

Mr Williams, also dad to Finley, aged three, was going backwards and forwards to visit the neonatal unit at West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds and it was when Spencer was home that he really started reading up on Group B strep.

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"It's only now, looking back, I realise how serious it can be. Babies have died from it," he said.

Teacher Tom Williams, with his baby Spencer. Tom says pregnant women should be routinely tested for Group B strep

Teacher Tom Williams, with his baby Spencer. Tom says pregnant women should be routinely tested for Group B strep - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

After a week of antibiotics, blood tests and a lumber puncture, Spencer was given the all-clear and he and mum Fay, a beauty therapist who works in Bury St Edmunds, were able to return home.

Mr Williams, who previously taught at Hardwick Primary School in Bury St Edmunds, said he would be "forever indebted" to hospital staff for their care and support to Spencer and the family, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Spencer has made a full recovery but only because of the staff at the neonatal ward. They are incredible and look after all the babies in their care as if they were their own,” he said.

Tom Williams and Spencer at West Suffolk Hospital

Tom Williams and Spencer at West Suffolk Hospital - Credit: My WiSH

He is keen to keep raising awareness of Group B strep, after he ran the Virtual London Marathon, raising £1,128.75 for the hospital's My WiSH Charity.

He said: "If I do another marathon, I think I would do it for Group B Strep [charity]."

Testing for Group B strep is not routinely offered to all pregnant women in the UK - something Mr Williams believes must change.

"If it helps one couple or one baby, my job is done," he added.

Tom and Spencer Williams with Karen Ranson holding the cheque for £1,128.75 for My WiSH

Tom and Spencer Williams with Karen Ranson holding the cheque for £1,128.75 for My WiSH - Credit: My WiSH

Mr Williams completed the Virtual London Marathon around Sudbury and the surrounding villages in four hours and 53 minutes and said most of the money raised came from family and friends.

He said: “I have done the London Marathon before but did not get in this year, but had the option of doing it virtually.

“I kind of fell into running and got a bug for it. All the training I did myself and went out most mornings at 4am.

“And I did it for the neonatal unit as I felt indebted for everything that they did for us."

Sally Daniels, fundraising manager for My WiSH, said: “Tom’s kind words are so true. The neonatal staff really do treat everyone like a family member. This donation is incredible and will make such a difference to other families in the future.”

Looking forward to 2022, Mr Williams said Finley would be starting school in September, Spencer will start nursery when he is one and there may be a holiday and moving house on the cards.