A while back I read in one of the UK national papers a story about a young woman called Jessica Palmer. Jessica, aged 34, was the mother of a little boy and was looking forward to the birth of her second baby.
When, after an uncomplicated birth she delivered a baby daughter, naturally she and her husband were thrilled and looked forward to getting on with the business of bringing up their family together.
But it was not to be.
Within 6 days of her baby girl's birth, Jessica was dead.
She had succumbed to Childbed Fever (also called Puerperal Fever or Puerperal Sepsis), an infection of the uterus after childbirth which commonly caused the deaths of new mothers in days gone by. Although rare nowadays, the incidence of this illness is on the increase.
What makes Jessica's story so tragic is that Childbed Fever is completely treatable if diagnosed swiftly. It simply requires a course of antibiotics.
What made me think about this story again was that last night I accidentally came across Jessica's story on a website set up by her husband, Ben.
Ben set up the website with the aim of heightening awareness of this terrible illness and highlighting the symptoms which may indicate its presence. To help achieve this there is even an A4 poster or leaflet which you can download to pass out to friends, family and colleagues.
Ben also requests that anyone wishing to help his cause signs a petition urging the UK Prime Minister to acknowledge that Child Bed Fever is not a disease of the past, that it still kills mothers unnecessarily and to take positive action now to stop it.
Perhaps, most poignantly of all, he has started a blog charting his day to day life with their two children who sometimes ask difficult questions...