Mum's tattoo reminder of how coronavirus has changed her life for the better - despite it nearly killing her and forcing premature birth of daughter

It only measures 7cm by 4cm and will go unnoticed by most people, but to Kathrine Dawson, it means the world.

Friday, 24th July 2020, 4:11 pm

The rainbow and hearts tattoo under her left wrist was completed this week as a symbol of the way Covid-19 has permanently changed her life for the better - despite almost killing her, and forcing the premature birth of daughter Ruby.

"I don't have any ill-feelings, and that's why I wanted the tattoo", said the 36-year-old from Worcester Avenue in Garstang.

As reported in the Post in May, Kathrine was 32-weeks pregnant at the end of March when she first started showing signs of coronavirus, but because she'd been self-isolating for three weeks and didn't have a cough, she put her temperature and weariness down to a cold.

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Kathrine with the tattoo on her left wrist

It was only when her condition worsened and she rang 111, that doctors at Blackpool Victoria Hospital sent her straight to A&E.

Worried about her escalating temperature and heart rate, they decided to deliver Ruby two months early by C-section.

>>>Read the original story of when Ruby went home here

After the birth on Wednesday, April 1, Kathrine developed pneumonia and spent eight days in an induced coma and on a ventilator, battling for her life.

The rainbow and hearts tattoo completed at Studio 81 in Preston

At her lowest point, doctors believed she only had a 50/50 chance of survival.

Little Ruby, who weighed in at 4lb 12oz, was moved to the neonatal department and, after an initial test for Covid-19 came back negative, she later tested positive for the disease, making her the youngest in the north west to catch it – and one of the youngest globally too.

With his wife in intensive care, Kathrine's husband Stuart, a foreman at Leach Structural Steel, based in Claughton-on-Brock, was at home looking after the couple's other daughters, Grace, 5, and Ava, one.

Due to strict rules around coronavirus, he had to wait 26 days before he could meet his new daughter.

Ruby is now 16 weeks old and flourishing

Katherine eventually left hospital after more than a month in hospital, having also endured a tracheotomy to help her breathe.

But despite the trauma of Kathrine's illness and Ruby's premature birth, the family say they are "doing really, really well", and want to celebrate the fresh new perspective it's given them on life.

"I just feel so grateful. This experience has made me think about my life", said Kathrine, a purchasing manager for silo firm E Collinson.

"Before all this, we just did the same things, day-in, day-out, and took a lot of things for granted. But this has made me realise what I've got.

The family are clapped out of hospital after a traumatic month-long stay. Picture courtesy of Blackpool Victoria Hospital

"I've got amazing friends who've rallied round for me, and an amazing family. It's brought us all closer together.

"Then there's the people who put their lives on the line looking after me.

"It's made me feel I can do anything, and I'm so grateful. I said to my husband, I don't want to lose this feeling in a few months time or when I go back to work, so this tattoo is a reminder, saying to myself 'you've can do this, look where you've been'.

"I don't want to waste my second chance at life".

The tattoo was completed on Wednesday at Studio 81 in Friargate, Preston.

Kathrine added: "The rainbow represents Covid in a positive light and reminds me of how lucky we are to have such brilliant NHS workers and key workers. They are the smaller people who we depend upon to keep this country going.

Tattoo artist Stu Allen completing the work

"Hopefully they realise what it means to me. If I could give them all a pay rise, I would, but this is what I can do.

"And I love it. It marks an occasion to me, and positivity.

"If you don't look at things like this positively, then you're going to end up with serious mental health problems."

Ruby is now 16 weeks old and "flourishing". After featuring in the Post, her and her mum's story has hit the headlines across the world, with Kathrine quick to laugh off their 'celebrity'.

Kathrine said: "She's doing as well as any other child of her age, despite being born eight weeks prematurely.

"And we're all doing really, really well too. The only thing is, I find that I lose my breath a little more easily, but I honestly feel so much better than I did before all of this.

"And with a newborn, toddler and a five-year-old, you've got no choice but to get on with things anyway.

"It's funny how we're famous now, who'd have thought it!"

The rainbow is complemented with one large heart, representing Stuart, and three smaller hearts, each representing one of her daughters.

Tattoo artist Stu Allen said: "Kathrine's rainbow tattoo is the only one like that we've been asked to do since we reopened.

"We get asked to do tattoos for all kinds of reasons, and it's nice to be able to do this for her because of the deep meaning it has."

Stuart, Kathrine and Ruby Dawson leave Blackpool Victoria Hospital to a guard of honour from staff. Picture: Blackpool Victoria Hospital