Two new parents appeared on This Morning to share the heartbreaking story of taking their newborn to hospital following a terrifying seizure, only to be accused of shaking her.
Speaking to hosts Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby, Craig and Carla described in harrowing detail the ordeal they suffered when daughter Effie was just three months old.
After being admitted to hospital, Effie was diagnosed with a bleed on the brain – a common consequence of shaken-baby-syndrome (SBS). Phil explained that concerned healthcare professionals alerted the authorities, believing that dad Craig had been violent with the newborn, and both parents were arrested on suspicion of GBH.
Effie was then taken into emergency care for eight months – although Craig and Carla were keen to point out that the foster care their daughter received whilst out of their hands was ‘great’.
Mum Carla revealed that their concerns about Effie’s health had started at just a month old: ‘She was vomiting and sleeping all day, she had no energy whatsoever.’
‘On the 15th of August, she just went really stiff, fixed gaze, she was white as a ghost,’ added Craig. ‘It was really scary.’
After questioning by police and nine hours in a police cell, the couple were released on bail, but restricted from seeing their daughter. It was then that they were asked to sign a Care Order, meaning that Effie was taken away by social workers for the eight months that investigations were under way.
Carla looked on the verge of tears as she mourned the loss of time spent with her child in her early years – they were allowed to visit her only three times a week.
‘For those few months, it felt like she wasn’t even our daughter,’ she explained. ‘The foster carers were amazing, but I thought that she might forget that we were her parents.’
It was only after months of trauma that, following their own research, the couple were able to find a light at the end of the tunnel. Whilst looking for a solicitor, they came across an organisation called ‘Parents Accused,’ who had previous experience with shaken baby cases.
With the help of the legal team, they came across the syndrome EDS – a rare condition that, after visiting a geneticist, both Carla and Effie were found to suffer from. ‘EDS is a connective tissue disorder, and can result in stretchy skin or hyper-mobility,’ explains Carla, after Holly mentioned one of the other things that could explain this bleed on the brain.
‘It can cause spontaneous organ rupture,’ added Craig. ‘Carla didn’t know for 23 years that she had it, it was only when Effie became ill [that she realised].’
The family are now reunited, and the whole studio was smiling as baby Effie was brought out to sit on her dad’s lap.
Phil was quick to point out that hospitals are currently terribly overstretched, but couldn’t hide his shock that no one had been able to suggest this before the dreadful ordeal the family had to go through to get justice.
‘One thing I think [healthcare professionals] could have done better would have been to keep her in hospital, and done a few more observations for other causes – rather than just point the blame straight away.’