Stowmarket: Tragic tot inspires mum’s swine flu jab plea
FOR three months Tia Billman watched her baby daughter fight a brave battle with swine flu - a battle she tragically lost.
At just 15-months-old the vicious infection was too much for Ruby Tuffs’s tiny body to handle.
Last March, when she was heavily pregnant, a devastated Miss Billman, of Union Street West, Stowmarket, faced the heart-rending moment when doctors turned off Ruby’s life-support machine.
Today the 21-year-old is urging parents to get their children vaccinated against the illness straight away, after discovering it was too late for her treasured little girl.
Her warning comes just days after 32-year-old Sarah Applin died on Tuesday after being admitted to the West Suffolk Hospital, Bury St Edmunds, with swine flu.
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Ruby suffered with a rare chromosome condition called 1P36 Deletion Syndrome which meant she permanently relied on oxygen and spent the first nine months of her short life in Ipswich Hospital.
After being allowed home in the summer of 2009 the tot enjoyed just a few months at home before she was admitted to Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge, for a routine operation.
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It was then, on December 16, 2009, that doctors discovered she had a high temperature and she was admitted into intensive care.
She spent her first birthday, on Christmas Eve, and her first Christmas fighting the illness ravaging her body.
But on March 18 last year Ruby’s lungs gave up on her.
“When I think about it now I can’t believe I survived,” she said. “I never gave up on her, she was so brave and fought right until the last moment.
“When doctors removed the oxygen tubes she had relied on her entire life, she fought on without them, surviving for five hours. But it was too much for her little body.”
Two days after she died Miss Billman said she discovered her daughter had been suffering swine flu.
On April 12, just weeks after losing Ruby Miss Billman gave birth to her second daughter Macey Warne.
“It was horrendous but Macey kept me going,” she said. “I had to keep going for her and for Ruby’s sake.”
In a bid to prevent other parents from facing the pain and devastation she has, Miss Billman is today urging people to get the swine flu vaccination.
She added: “Whether your child is healthy or has underlying illnesses get them the vaccination.
“I went to get Ruby vaccinated but it got put off and then it was too late.
“She was such a special little girl, I miss her everyday, she has given me the strength to speak out and raise awareness of how quickly this illness can strike.”