It has been more than a decade, but Rachael Thomas still remembers the early hours of 5 February 2010 as if it was yesterday. She was standing against the wall in a hospital room in Kent, UK, watching a team of doctors fighting to save her 13-week-old child, Alexander. “They were putting tubes in him and silently crying,” she says. “I remember thinking: ‘It must be really bad if the doctors are crying.’”
The previous week, Alexander had been the “happy, calm baby” he usually was. But he soon developed a cough and a runny nose, which the local doctor dismissed as a minor cold when Thomas took him for a check-up. However, the next night, Alexander woke up with a high-pitched scream, and quickly “went white and floppy”. Thomas rang for an ambulance, and began resuscitating her baby in a panic.
At the hospital, doctors worked furiously to save Alexander, but stopped after 2.5 hours of trying to revive him. “I held him while they turned the machines off. I sang to him because I didn’t want him to be scared,” she recalls.