Mum’s heartbreak as four-week-old daughter takes last breath in her arms

A mum has told of the heartbreaking moment her four-week-old daughter died in her arms.

Hattie Elliott was born ten weeks early in May 2020. She seemed healthy, like her twin brother Hamish.

But she struggled to drink milk from her bottle and needed to be fed through a tube.

The family were warned the longer Hattie depended on a supply line at The Royal Derby Hospital, the greater chance she’d have of developing blood poisoning.

Hattie contracted an aggressive sepsis which started in her bowel. Six hours later, she was dead.

Hattie’s mum Alison spoke to The Derby Telegraph about the last moments she and her husband Jon had with their daughter.

“She was a wriggly little thing,” Alison said. “She absolutely loved her dad.”

“The really sad thing is the day she contracted sepsis it was the most she’d ever taken of the milk. We got so excited.”

Alison noticed something wasn’t right when she held her daughter outside her incubator.

She said: “I read her stories and sang to her and she threw up on me.

“She was getting a bit restless and looking a bit grey, so I said to a nurse I think I want to put her back into the incubator, she didn’t look a nice colour.”

The nurses started Hattie on antibiotics and told the family to go home, saying they’d call if anything happened.

Alison said: “We were just about to go to bed. About 11pm we got a phone call that said: ‘You need to come in now, we need a blood transfusion’.

“They’d resuscitated her a couple of times and she’d responded. They took some blood from me and it worked for a little bit.

“The doctors were so amazing. They said: ‘This is what’s happening, but it doesn’t look good. As long as you want us to try, we’ll keep trying.’

“I just didn’t want her to be in pain anymore.”

Doctors resuscitated Hattie five times before the family made the heart-wrenching decision to call off their attempts. They said the four-week-old had suffered enough.

“I said to my husband: ‘I think enough’s enough’.

“I didn’t want her [to be in] pain in her last minutes.”

As she described that terrible moment, Alison was full of praise for the staff at the Royal Derby Hospital, thanking them for their help during the ordeal.

She said: “They were really good. They brought my son down and it was the first time we could hold both their hands at the same time.

“They kept us informed. They let us get to the cot and hold her hand and talk to her. And then we made the decision that enough was enough.

“She got to have her last breaths in my arms.”

Alison, who works at the Royal Derby Hospital herself, praised staff for going the extra mile. Nurses turned a room on the ward into ‘Hattie’s parents’ room’ so the family had a quiet space to grieve for their baby girl.

“They even gave us a camera to capture every moment – which was the best idea, but something I would never have thought of,” Alison said.

“One nurse, Louise, even held my hand while I called my mum to tell her what happened.

“When it was time to say goodbye, Hattie’s nurses came to say their goodbyes, which was so thoughtful.

“They even let us walk Hattie in a pram to the mortuary, which meant everything to us, especially my husband.”

When Hamish was strong enough, his parents took him home. They are now settling into family life.

Memories of Hattie are never far from their minds.