A mum's plea as new campaign launches: Don't let other children suffer like Ellis

Ellis with mum Mae
Ellis with mum Mae

A heartbroken mother whose son suffered brain damage and multiple injuries when he was shaken as a baby shares her story prior to the launch tomorrow of a new county campaign designed to help prevent future tragedies.

Mae Pleydell-Pearce is to speak at the launch of Lancashire Safeguarding services' ICON campaign which has been designed to help parents and carers cope when the pressures of a baby crying are getting too much for them to cope with.

She will be sharing her family's story at County Hall tomorrow in the hope it saves other youngsters enduring what her son endured.

Ellis died 14 years after being shaken by her then partner. Mae is travelling from her home in Somerset for the county launch. She helped devise the ICON campaign, which has already been shortlisted for a national awars.

She said: "I feel if it saves another child being shaken I'll do whatever I can."

This is Ellis's story in his mother's words.

"Ellis was born healthy on Valentine’s Day 1995.

When he was three months old, he was shaken by my ex partner. The two mile inner city drive to the hospital took six minutes.. equipment fell off shelves

Five days on life support in an induced coma and I was asked four times to switch him off, Ellis miraculously survived.

Ellis’ brain was so damaged it was “like mush” I was told. Ellis had detached retinas in both eyes, two breaks in his legs and three broken ribs. He was unresponsive.

I was told Ellis wouldn’t make his first birthday.

I can remember case conferences, social services, at risk registers..

I remember how different my baby looked, no movement, recognition, or response. Just screaming.

In court I heard specialists say that Ellis’ injuries were compared to being dropped from a seventh storey window

His abuser received a two year sentence.

Ellis had 28 professionals.co-ordinating the appointments and Ellis’s needs added to the exhaustion

Ellis couldn’t move, see,sit or talk. He needed suctioning and hoisting. Ellis had an endless list of equipment and his bedroom was like an ICU (intensive care) unit.

Ellis had 284 hospital admissions. Five were in intensive care on life support. I will forever be haunted by the respirator wheezing and the little accordion gadget inside flopping up and down.His longest admission was 17 weeks. Ellis had many operations...on his eyes, lungs, Gastrostomy, on his legs, lumber punctures, gums, he had scoliosis. Ellis had 24 different medications a day.

I had to resuscitate Ellis at home so frequently, waiting for ambulances that to have had an emotional attachment in those moments would have broken me.

Ellis should have been playing, making friends, sharing , learning,

He never called me mum.

When Ellis was 12 he entered his palliative phase which included a non resuscitation document.

Giving my permission to let Ellis go was heartbreaking, I was giving up on the chance that he would one day be ok. The realisation that this suffering would only end when Ellis died went against all that I had done for so long.

Ellis was dependant on oxygen.

His then four year old brother would go into his room, lower his electric bed and climb in next to him and go to sleep. I would hear it on the intercom monitor. His little brother knew we were going to lose him.

Ellis passed away of pneumonia on May 9, 2007 aged 14.

We held his hand as he took his last breath.

At the coroner's hearing it was determined that Ellis had died as a direct result of being shaken.

Ellis is buried in a little churchyard under a tree and all I can do for him now is take him flowers.

After almost 10 years since he’s passed away, I still have a sudden maternal urge to go get Ellis in from the cold when it rains.

It took 13 years 11 months and 13 days after he was shaken, for him to take his last breath,

ICON is preventing this from happening to others across the uk."

* Leaflets and posters have been created carrying the ICON message: “Babies Cry, You Can Cope!”

The advice being issued also stresses if you feel you need support speak to someone - family, friends, midwife, health visitor or GP.

The campaign, which is running in several counties, gets its name from four statements:1) Infant crying is normal and it will stop!
2) Comfort methods can sometimes soothe the baby and the crying will stop.
3) It’s Ok to walk away if you have checked the baby is safe and the crying is getting to you.
4) Never, ever shake or hurt a baby.

*The ICON campaign literature with video clips can be seen at www.lancashiresafeguarding.org.uk/ICON

*The CRY-SIS national helpline is on 08451 228 669 seven days a week from 9am - 10pm

*The NSPCC is on 0808 800 5000 www.nspcc.org.uk

*Local Children and Family Wellbeing Service or Children's Centres can also be contacted for more information.

For our full report on the ICON campaign see: https://www.lep.co.uk/health/a-momentary-loss-of-self-control-cost-my-son-his-life-1-9736276