New anguish for Katy family

Paula Holmes with daughter Scarlet who has been diagnosed with sleep apnoea
Paula Holmes with daughter Scarlet who has been diagnosed with sleep apnoea

The grieving parents of brain tumour victim Katy Holmes suffered yet more heartache when their baby daughter was rushed to hospital with a serious breathing complaint.

Paula and David Holmes, have now been told that five-month-old Scarlet, is likely to be suffering from sleep apnoea, and is monitored when she is put to bed.

The Holmes’ latest nightmare comes just four months after 10-year-old Katy died.

Paula, who was pregnant with Scarlet at the time of Katy’s diagnosis, had Scarlet induced three weeks early so Katy would have the chance to meet her new sister.

The couple, who also have an eight-year-old daughter Charley became concerned when they noticed that five-month-old Scarlet would sometimes hold her breath for several seconds and the problem became more noticeable when she became ill with a cold and experienced difficulties breathing.

It was a poignant question from Charley, who has been struggling to come to terms with Katy’s death, that prompted an anxious Paula and David to seek medical advice.

Paula, of Margaret Road, Penwortham, said: “Charley was worried about Scarlet and just as was going to bed, she asked me: ‘Mummy, Scarlet’s not going to get the cot death is she?

“I immediately reassured Charley and told her that of course that wasn’t going to happen. However, it suddenly occurred to me the possibility of cot death was a real worry as my sister Kelly lost her five-week-old baby son to cot death five years ago.

“That night, Dave stopped up with Scarlet all night as Charley’s words had got us worried and I stopped up with Scarlet the following night.

The family were advised to take Scarlet to ward 8 the paediatric ward at Royal Preston Hospital - the same ward where Katy was treated just weeks before her death.

The last time Katy was in Royal Preston Hospital was in December when she suddenly began suffering fits due to the tumour and became unconsious.

Paula said: “We were told that we had to take Scarlet to the paediatric ward to be physically checked before we could be given a monitor for her.

“When I realised that we had to take Scarlet to the same ward where Katy was in, I just crumbled.

“The thought of listening to the bleeping monitors and remembering everything we went through with Katy was just too much for me.

“As soon as I set foot into Royal Preston Hospital, I burst into tears as it brought back all the terrible memories of seeing Katy in there.

“It was the first time I had gone back to the hospital since we were in there with Katy and I found it very difficult.

“But the staff in the paediatric unit were wonderful with me and took me to a room while they dealt with Scarlet and they were so quick and efficient, we were out of there in no time with a monitor.”

Doctors believe Scarlet may have sleep apnoea, a sleep disorder characterised by abnormal pauses in breathing or instances of abnormally low breathing, during sleep.

Each pause in breathing, called an apnoea, can last from a few seconds to minutes.

Paula said: “Doctors say it is something that Scarlet could grow out of but the monitor is there to give us peace of mind.

“It is set for 20 seconds so if Scarlet holds her breath for too long, it triggers an alarm.

“Scarlet seems to be doing OK now and the alarm has only gone off a couple of times.

“When it first happened, it was awful and it really set us back. In our mind, we were back in the world of hospitals with doctors, machines and meetings with specialists - the things that we thought were behind us.

“We are just glad Scarlet is OK and that we have a monitor to keep a check on her breathing.”