Showing posts tagged with: 'campaign'


Many returns

Mon 8th Sep 2008 by Ben Palmer.

Tonight our long summer holidays end. We've had an amazing time, visiting Scotland and Portugal, enjoying glorious sunshine in both, but tomorrow all three of us start again at school. I go back in my working capacity in I.T., Harry returns now in Upper School and Emily joins us for her first day at 'big school' in Reception.

How vividly I remember Harry's first day three years ago: shy and nervous, clinging to my arm. How quickly he learned to adore his teacher, an adoration Emily is already learning, before she has started, of the same teacher in the same classroom. How happy Emily will be. How proud a mother Jessica would have been.

But enough of holidays and school. I must also reverse the partially deliberate neglection of the blog and Jessica's Trust. I must pick up the reins and gallop into the enormous amount of work, the Charity Commission's queries, notes that need be written for the meetings I have and the speech I must deliver to a conference of midwives in October.

I feel recharged and energised, and as if I didn't already have enough reason to put my back into Jessica's Trust, I have heard from yet more families who have been deeply affected by childbed fever with horrendous long term illness. We must look beyond the statistics of maternal death to these uncounted cases of horrific suffering and pain from genital tract sepsis and its consequences.

In the meantime, my apologies for going AWOL and my warmest thanks to all those who have left messages of support and appreciation.

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Anniversary request

Mon 30th Jun 2008 by Ben Palmer.

Four years ago today, a good mother died unnecessarily from an archaic illness. The world may not have noticed immediately, but the three year old boy crying in his bed, the six day old girl feeding in her father's arms and the grieving widower did.

Together the three of us have kicked, screamed and cried at more than one time or another, not necessarily in synchronisation.

We are now building a new life for ourselves but a few things haven't changed in the years that have past: we don't like what happened, we miss Jessica and we don't want another son, daughter or husband to live through what we have.

All three of us, to the extent of the understanding that we each have, want to do what we can to prevent another mother's death from childbed fever, but we need your help.

On this fourth anniversary, we would like you to tell four (or more) people, who don't already know, about Jessica's Trust, what childbed fever is and what the symptoms of childbed fever are.

Please ask them to do the same as well. Thank you.

Ben, Harry and Emily. x

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Double dose

Sat 7th Jun 2008 by Ben Palmer.

Yesterday's extract of Friday's Child in the Daily Mail caused a huge response, which still stuns me this morning.

To everyone who has contacted me: Thank you. I am replying as fast as I can!

The extract was from my book Friday's Child which is the story of what happened back then. Today the Guardian has printed an interview, After Jessica, that is as much about now and what my hopes are.

I'm flattered that the article has been put on the front of the Family supplement.

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Count down

Sun 1st Jun 2008 by Ben Palmer.

The coming week is going to be a very busy one. I've got a pile of work on my desks - both at home and in the office in which I have a corner that I call my own.

It's also book launch week, and there's a bit of press coverage lined up too.

Obviously I won't be sad if Friday's Child sells a few copies or more, but the real happiness that I yearn for will come through the people who read of Jessica's plight and are moved enough to spread her story.

If every reader tells their colleagues, family and friends, then it will be a lot of people who know about the continuing danger of childbed fever and infection in otherwise healthy new mothers.

I really want it to be the start of the end of this cruel and un-prejudiced killer. Please, help me to make Jessica's untimely and unnecessary death one that counts.

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Long delivery

Fri 30th May 2008 by Ben Palmer.

They've been a long time in the making, but the poster and leaflet that we've been working on are now ready.

They have been reviewed and amended by our new panel of medical advisors, to whom I am extremely grateful, and I hope that they will help to spread the awareness message about childbed fever.

The downloads are on the Poster & Leaflet page, or individually here:

Poster PDF (0.9MB)

Leaflet PDF (1.16MB)

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Misconception that matters

Mon 12th May 2008 by Ben Palmer.

When I picked Emily up from school this afternoon (and I can hear what she'd say to me here, "It's not school, Daddy, it's NURSERY school") I said hello to the head teacher as Emily came rushing out.

"I saved this for you," she said, "It's missing a bit but I thought you'd be interested." She handed me a pulled out spread from a newspaper.

When I got home I started reading it. It was an article from Times2 last week, Save the independent midwife, along with a personal tale, right at the end in the on-line version, written by a mother, Alex O'Connell, who had had a horrific first delivery, and had opted for a home birth the next time, assisted by an independent midwife.

I finished reading it on-line and something jumped out at me. It was the reference to Alex's post-puerperal fever after discharge from hospital first time. How lucky she was that it only took two doses of antibiotics to shift it, and how wrong she was to assume that the lack of infection second time around was because she was far from a maternity ward.

Yes you can acquire an infection in hospital - MRSA, C diff etc - but puerperal/childbed fever is not a hospital acquired infection - it is caused by community bacteria, and nobody is safe. I'm going to go on and on saying it. I'm even going to shout it. NOBODY IS SAFE FROM THIS HORRIFIC DISEASE, whether they deliver in hospital, a birthing centre, their own bedroom or the back of a taxi.

It doesn't matter whether they are young, old, fat or thin. It  doesn't matter if the midwife is independent or NHS employed, it just matters that the symptoms are spotted in time to give you your antibiotics.

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Headed paper

Sat 10th May 2008 by Ben Palmer.

I had a letter from my MP yesterday. I'd had a meeting with her a while ago, and we've exchanged several letters and emails. She, along with other parliamentarians, is committed to helping Jessica's Trust, and wrote to Alan Johnson, the Health Secretary to ask for a meeting. His reply was attached to the letter.

Although he didn't say yes or no to the meeting, his letter was encouraging: pointing out that I had already met with the National Clinical Lead for Maternal Health and Maternity Services, had had a productive meeting and have an open line of dialogue.

What was really encouraging to hear, on headed paper, was that "We value highly the work of Jessica's Trust" and that he hopes that the Trust will "play an even greater role in reducing the number of deaths from [childbed fever]" based on the existing relationship with the Department of Health.

I'm encouraged as this is a much more positive governmental acceptance of the need to do something about childbed fever than I have had to date. I believe that there is the desire for change, even if it is taking Jessica's name to achieve.

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Don't test, tell

Thu 1st May 2008 by Ben Palmer.

Back in January, I wrote in the blog about Screening for Group A Strep (GAS). Since then I have thought about it a lot, and discussed it with various medical professionals.

I am convinced it is a worthless exercise. Worse than that, it could be dangerous. Why?

A woman can be colonised with GAS at any point in her life*, let alone in her pregnancy or puerperum, so all a test would do is say that she does or does not carry the bacteria at this very point in time.

What if she was colonised the day after the test? She would have been given a false sense of security by a negative result. If GAS was only introduced some time after delivery, and it caused a genital tract sepsis, the last thing on her mind would be childbed fever, because she was 'clear'.

It is of far more value to skip the testing and instead take every woman's temperature and pulse regularly in the days after delivery. Then tell her about the condition and how to recognise that she might have it. She must also be told of the vital importance of being seen, swabbed and treated if infection is suspected, before her health and her life are in danger.

* up to 30% of us may be carrying Group A Strep in our throats or on our skin

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Time for T

Mon 28th Apr 2008 by Ben Palmer.

A little over seven years ago, Jessica met a group of fellow first time pregnant girls at her first ante-natal class.

Two girls emigrated, but five of them went on going to the classes, every week for six weeks or so. The classes came to an end and one by one they gave birth within the space of a few weeks: four boys and a girl.

The five of them continued to meet every week, usually for lunch on Wednesdays, until the children started going to nursery school. The meetings became more irregular, but they stayed in touch and sometimes us Dads joined them for dinner. In the years since, the number of children has grown to eleven.

Since Jessica's death the girls have welcomed me into their group as an honorary Mum, and have supported me hugely in the years since. Her death could not have affected them more - they were such a close knit group.

Today we formed a new group of our own: Jessica's Trust is now formalised with the five of us as trustees. The change from 'trust' to 'Trust' in the masthead reflects this.

I am hugely grateful to the girls for agreeing to help me. There is much to be done, but first we apply to become a Registered Charity.

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A chilling hot lunch

Tue 22nd Apr 2008 by Ben Palmer.

I had lunch with two of Jessica's girlfriends today. Soup and garlic bread in the glorious sunshine, and really nice to see them both.

We were talking about Jessica and her trust, and in the course of the conversation I fetched a copy of Saving Mother's Lives 2003-2005 to illustrate a point. Then something I had looked at again and again jumped out and smacked me in the face.

In those three years, the leading direct cause of maternal death was thrombosis/thromboembolism with 41 deaths. The second highest place was tied, 18 deaths apiece, between pre-eclampsia/eclampsia and Genital Tract Sepsis. (=childbed fever/puerperal fever/puerperal sepsis)

Why is it that pregnant mothers are told about, warned about and aware of pre-eclampsia (some antenatal classes are especially good at letting you know it's a danger, even if you're not totally sure what it is) but nobody tells you about childbed fever, even though it is just as much of a danger?

After an involuntary shiver, they agreed to join me in trying to change that.

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What is childbed fever?

Childbed fever is an infection of the womb in new mothers which can lead to septicaemia. If left untreated infection will cause organ failure and death - even in young, fit mothers.
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What are the symptoms? »
Childbed fever: the facts »

What's the aim?

We would like every parent and every midwife and doctor to know that childbed fever is still a very real threat to a mother's life.
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Can I help? »

Who is Jessica?

Jessica Palmer was a Mum. She died in June 2004, at 34 years old, of childbed fever caused by Group A streptococcus.
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This website contains general information about childbed fever. The information is not complete or comprehensive. You should not rely on the information on this website as an alternative to medical advice from your doctor or healthcare provider. If you have any specific questions about childbed fever (or any other medical condition) you should consult your doctor or other healthcare provider; and if you think you may be suffering from childbed fever (or any other medical condition) you should seek immediately medical attention. You should never delay seeking medical advice, disregard medical advice, or discontinue medical treatment because of information on this website.
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