Whissendine couple can smile again after tragic loss of son

Sarah and Philip with a week-old Archie in Victoria Hospital, Kirkcaldy. EMN-140710-172920001
Sarah and Philip with a week-old Archie in Victoria Hospital, Kirkcaldy. EMN-140710-172920001
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When baby Archie was born his mum and dad were overjoyed at the arrival of their first child.

Born prematurely at just 32 weeks, he needed surgery to correct a congenital condition that Sarah and Philip McConnell believed was nothing to be too concerned about.

But within hours of the surgery their six week old baby was dead and their lives turned upside down.

It has taken a heartbroken Sarah and Philip more than a year to come to terms with the tragedy.

But now the 24 year old has found a “reason to smile again” by raising funds for the premature and special care babies charity Bliss - so other parents may be spared the heartache that she and her husband, Philip, 30, suffered.

The couple were visiting relatives near Kirkcaldy, in Scotland, when she was rushed to the town’s Victoria Hospital on July 30, 2013.

Archie was delivered by emergency Caesarean section to save Sarah and Archie’s lives.

Sarah said: “He was absolutely fine, just small, apart from a few little problems because he was born early.”

At two-and-a-half-weeks old he was flown to Peterborough City Hospital so he could be nearer the family’s home in Whissendine.

Archie needed surgery for a diaphragmatic hernia repair, to correct an opening in his diaphragm.

As the Peterborough hospital did not have a paediatric surgery unit the baby was flown to Leicester Royal Infirmary for the procedure on September 13, 2013.

Sarah said: “He was on a ventilator and was absolutely fine after the surgery. We were told to go home and rest.

“Later that night we got a call to say something had gone wrong.

“We rushed to the hospital but when we got there it was too late. Our baby had died.

“We were devastated. It was the most horrific thing anyone can go through.

“It has been a really tough time for both of us.”

Sarah recalled fondly her little boy who “fought all the way” and how, in the short time they were blessed with his company, he had shown that he had a mind of his own.

“He was brilliant,” she said. “He was a funny little boy. He would get so angry if I or his dad held him in a different way to the one he liked. He would scream until we swapped over depending on who was holding him.”

In recent months Sarah has taken to attending car boot sales along with friends to raise money for premature babies and knitting premature baby blankets.

And on Saturday she held her first fundraising event - a fancy dress disco- at Cottesmore Village Hall.

It raised more than £2,000 for Bliss “thanks to the generosity” of businesses in Oakham, Melton Mowbray, Whissendine, Stamford and Nottingham.

Sarah said: “It has been really hard to carry on. The fundraising has given me a reason to smile again.”