Noah Tindle was just 4 weeks old when his short life was left hanging in the balance.
Mom Ashleigh White noticed her son’s right eye had become swollen, blistered and was watering.
The 21-year-old sought advice from a visiting nurse, who reassured her it was probably just a blocked tear duct.
But days later, in September last year, Ashleigh spotted blisters forming around Noah’s eye.
The worried mom took her newborn son to the doctors straight away, fearing it could be herpes.
Noah was referred to Barnsley Hospital in Northern England, where mom Ashleigh again repeated her fears to doctors.
“I’d read something on Facebook about another baby having the virus and the blisters looked exactly the same,” she said.
“What I didn’t realize is that even if you don’t have an active cold sore, you still do carry the virus in your system and saliva, meaning you can never be too careful.”
Doctors carried out a series of tests, but due to Ashleigh’s persistence they started treating Noah for the herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV1).
Test results came back a few days later confirming her fears were correct – Noah had contracted the deadly virus.
When the blisters started to appear, Ashleigh rushed her son to the doctors, and he was sent to the hospital.
When doctors told the first-time mom her son had likely caught the virus from a kiss from an infected adult, she realized it must have happened at a christening they’d been at five days earlier.
“He was only 4 weeks old,” Ashleigh said.
“We went to a christening where friends were holding and kissing him – it could have been any of them.”
Noah, who is now nine months old, spent two and a half months in the hospital recovering.
Despite a relapse in March this year, he is currently hitting all his milestones, and will be on antiviral medication until 2020.
Due to Ashleigh’s quick thinking and persistence, doctors were able to catch the herpes virus while it was still on Noah’s eyelid.
“We managed to catch it before it could enter his bloodstream,” she said. “He couldn’t open his eyes for days.”
HSV-1, commonly known as the cold sore virus, isn’t harmful to adults but can prove fatal for babies, with weaker immune systems.
It can spread quickly to babies’ brains and cause multiple organ failure, and ultimately death.
Noah was sent to Sheffield Children’s Hospital, about 30 minutes from Barnsley, to have a special line fitted, to allow doctors to give him antiviral drugs intravenously.
The newborn was given the drugs for two weeks, for an hour at a time, three times a day.
“He spent two hours in the [operating room] for what should have been a half-hour operation, because he was so tiny,” Ashleigh said.
“He was then to be on the prophylactic antiviral for six months. Unfortunately, he had a re-occurrence in March and again went through the same thing, two weeks of intense antivirals and now he won’t be off of his medication until March 2020.”
Noah will continue to have regular checkups, but doctors have said he’s doing well.
Ashleigh said she chose to share her photos on Noah on social media to raise awareness and warn other parents.
“I just want to make more people aware of the risks and consequences of kissing a baby, especially a newborn when you suffer cold sores,” she said.
“I was lucky enough to catch it in time, and still have my little boy with me today, other parents might not be so lucky.
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