Great Britain

Mum, 41, whose baby daughter died of sepsis slams ‘insensitive’ Comic Relief ad joke about ‘keeping babies alive’

A MUM whose baby daughter died of sepsis has slammed an "insensitive" Comic Relief advert which jokes about "keeping a baby alive".

Charlotte Cooper's "lifeless" nine-month-old Heidi was rushed to hospital after contracting pneumococcal septicaemia in 2019 and sadly died a short time later.

The 41-year-old and husband Andrew, also 41, have spent the last 18 months coming to terms with her heartbreaking death.

And then last week Charlotte was horrified to see a billboard promoting Comic Relief near her home in Airdrie in North Lanarkshire, Scotland.

The advert, which is in partnership with choccy favourite Maltesers, shows a social post saying: "With the crushing weight of responsibility that comes with keeping a baby alive, I sometimes wonder if i should have got a Guinea pig. #themassiveovershare."

Charlotte said the "traumatising" poster forced her to relive the worst moment of her life when Heidi's heart stopped.

She told the Daily Record: "I couldn't believe what I was reading. That is just so triggering.

"I am all for supporting maternal mental health, but it is not ok to support one person's mental health by destroying someone else's.

"It's so disappointing that they chose to use a comment which makes a joke about keeping babies alive.

"I wasn't able to keep my baby alive so to see something like that is very traumatising.

"I feel like it's totally insensitive and they have not considered what a comment like that would do to a person who has lost a child, not to mention people struggling with fertility issues or baby loss. It is very damaging."

Malteser makers Mars Wrigleys UK and Comic Relief said the campaign aims to raise money and awareness for maternal mental health.

Funds will support projects like The Happy Mums Foundation and Smile Group which offer vital aid to mother's in need.

A spokesperson for Comic Relief said: "We are very sorry to hear about Mrs Cooper’s loss and we have been in touch with her directly to discuss her concerns.

"The quote featured is a personal anecdote from a parent as part of the Maltesers ‘Over Share’ campaign which encourages mums to share their experiences online.

"The campaign aims to highlight the importance of maternal mental health in a relatable way and to help people access key support services should they need them.

"Sadly this has not been Mrs Cooper’s experience, and we will take her important feedback onboard with future work."

A Mars Wrigley UK spokesperson said: "We were incredibly sorry to learn about Charlotte Cooper’s loss, this is something that no parent should go through.

"Our ‘The Massive Overshare’ campaign, which was created working with leading maternal mental health charities, provides an important platform for the British public to talk openly about motherhood.

"The campaign is making a meaningful difference to those who need support, with nearly 50,0000 people already having visited the Comic Relief Maternal Mental health hub."

Heidi was treated for a viral sickness bug after she began vomiting and had a fever in July 2019, but was quickly rushed back to hospital when her joints became sore and she "sat lifeless".

The tot was diagnosed with suspected sepsis but tragically her heart stopped before she could be operated on at Wishaw General Hospital.

Doctors later told distraught Charlotte and Andrew she had developed meningitis and sepsis possibly caught from a sneeze or cough.

What is sepsis?

The condition is always triggered by an infection.

Most often the culprit is an infection we all recognise - pneumonia, urinary infections (UTIs), skin infections, including cellulitis, and infections in the stomach, for example appendicitis.

Typically, when a person suffers a minor cut, the area surrounding the wound will become red, swollen and warm to touch.

This is evidence the body's immune system has kicked into action, releasing white blood cells to the site of the injury to kill off the bacteria causing the infection.

The white blood cells and platelets form blood clots in the tissues around the cut.

Blood vessels swell to allow more blood to flow, and they become leaky, allowing infection-fighting cells to get out of the blood and into the tissues where they are needed.

This causes inflammation, which appears to us as the red, warm swelling.

When sepsis happens, this system goes into overdrive.

The inflammation that is typically seen just around the minor cut, spreads through the body, affecting healthy tissue and organs.

The immune system - the body's defence mechanism - overreacts and the result is it attacks the body.

It can lead to organ failure and septic shock, which can prove fatal.

Grieving Charlotte said at the time: "Parents need to know more about sepsis as it kills so many people.

"Every hour counts with sepsis and the chance of surviving it. I can't help but think that if we knew more Heidi Anne could still be here."

Heidi had been vaccinated against pneumococcal bacteria, but she had caught a strain not included in vaccinations from a stranger's cough or sneeze.

Heartbreaking moment Autistic girl, 7, 'turns blue and dies of sepsis because she couldn't say how sick she was

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