A couple who have been "through hell" after losing their baby after just 19 days are calling for more awareness of a common infection that cost their son his life – but which currently is not part of routine screening tests.

Craig Pollard and Sarah Doolin suffered every parent's worst nightmare last month when baby Ezrah suddenly became very poorly without warning.

Initially restless and grouchy, missing a feed, they became concerned and contacted 111 when he started grunting and his temperature rose quickly.

Having been told to wait for an ambulance, an hour later they called 999 only to learn one wasn't coming, so they drove him to A&E themselves.

Craig, a green keeper at Mullion Golf Club, said: "Once we got to Treliske his colour had gone and he had become mottled. They told us if we waited half an hour he would’ve died at home.

"Most stories we’ve read, parents have a long period of time as their child declines, but sadly Ezrah went downhill in hours."


Little Ezrah died aged just 19 days old

Little Ezrah died aged just 19 days old


He was first treated at the Royal Cornwall Hospital in Truro, before being transferred by ambulance to Bristol Children's Hospital.

Diagnosed with sepsis and meningitis as a result of Group B Streptococcus (GBS or Strep B), medical teams worked tirelessly to treat Ezrah, but he had suffered severe brain injury and could not be saved.

He passed away on March 25, just 19 days after he was born.

Now his parents, from Newtown in St Martin, hope that despite his short life little Ezrah, whose name means "helper" in Hebrew, will be able to do just that and help other families avoid the same pain they have suffered.

Craig said: "It’s our thought that we want to raise as much awareness as we can. We wouldn’t want anyone else going through the hell we’ve been through."

Craig and Sarah, an English teacher at Helston Community College, have now set up a memorial fundraising page, via Pendle Funeral Services, which has so far raised more than £3,500 in support of two charities.

One is The Grand Appeal, which funds Bristol Children’s Hospital – including the Watch ambulance service that transferred Ezrah to hospital and continues to transport other children like him, from hard to reach areas such as Cornwall, giving them the chance to access the specialist care they need.

The second is Group B Strep Support, a charity working to eradicate the infection in babies.

Donations can be made to the fundraising page via ezrahpollard.muchloved.com


Craig with Ezrah just after he was born

Craig with Ezrah just after he was born


GBS, or Strep B, is the most common cause of severe infection in newborns, causing sepsis, pneumonia, or meningitis. Information on the charity's website states that two babies on average develop the infection in the UK every day and tragically, of those, one will die every week, while another will survive but be left with long-term disability.

England’s rate of Group B Strep infection in babies rose by 77% between 1996 and 2020, and is more than double the rate than in many other high-income countries – yet there is currently no routine antenatal screening provided in the UK.

The couple said: "We’ve chosen Group B Strep Support in addition to The Grand Appeal because we want more to be done to protect babies and parents from such devastating infection. Routine screening and wider information on Group B Strep could prevent other parents facing the painful loss that we have sadly experienced.

"We are heartbroken that we have lost our little boy and our future with him. We miss him beyond belief.

"Ezrah remains a bright shining light in our memories; he was so loved and will forever be missed."

The couple are also supporting a national petition set up to introduce routine screening for Strep B, at https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/608081


Sarah with little Ezrah

Sarah with little Ezrah


About Group B Streptococcus*

  • Group B Strep is a bacteria carried harmlessly by around 20% to 25% of pregnant women and between 20% and 40% of all women in the UK. It usually only causes a problem if a baby is exposed to Group B Strep around labour and in the early weeks after birth.
  • In most cases when a mother carries GBS a baby will be born safely and will not develop an infection. However, in rare cases it can cause serious infection such as sepsis, pneumonia or meningitis
  • Most Group B Strep infections in babies develop in their first week of life, but it can develop up to three months of age.
  • Most early-onset GBS infection can be prevented by giving women who are carrying Group B Strep preventative antibiotics in labour.
  • The risk of your baby becoming unwell with GBS infection is increased if your baby is born pre-term, if you have a temperature while you are in labour, or if your waters break before you go into labour.
  • If your newborn baby develops signs of GBS infection, they should be treated with antibiotics straight away.

Symptoms of GBS*

Early-onset GBS infection usually presents as sepsis with pneumonia. Typical signs to look out for include:

  • Grunting, noisy breathing, moaning, seems to be working hard to breathe when you look at the chest or tummy, or not breathing at all.
  • Being very sleepy and/or unresponsive.
  • Inconsolable crying.
  • Being unusually floppy.
  • Not feeding well or not keeping milk down.
  • Having a high or low temperature (if parents have a thermometer), and/or being hot or cold to the touch.
  • Having changes in their skin colour (including blotchy skin).
  • Having an abnormally fast or slow heart rate or breathing rate.
  • Having low blood pressure (identified by tests done in hospital).
  • Having low blood sugar (identified by tests done in hospital).

*Source: Group B Strep Support/www.gbss.org.uk