The family of a ‘miracle baby’ currently on an oxygen machine as she battles coronavirus told of their despair over people who are still not taking the outbreak seriously.
Erin Bates, aged just six months, was born weighing only 5lbs 4oz and with a heart condition which required open heart surgery. She has also battled problems with her windpipe but, after months of treatment in and out of hospital, she stood a good chance of recovery.
However, last Friday, she was confirmed as having covid-19.
A heart-breaking picture of her, released with consent of her parents, shows their daughter lying in hospital on a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machine supplying oxygen, surrounded by wires, tubes and equipment.
Because only one parent can stay with her, mother Emma Bates, 29, remains with Erin at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital, Liverpool.
Her father Wayne, 32, has gone home to Bury, Greater Manchester, where he must self-isolate because of his contact with Erin. The couple keep in contact by phone calls and regular Facetime video chats.
Mr and Mrs Bates believe that because Erin – conceived naturally after a decade of trying during which they were told they might not be able to have children – has already fought ‘against the odds’ so many times, she can overcome her latest setback.
But they say they are appalled that members of the public are still flouting lockdown rules, which could cause the virus to continue spreading.
Mr Bates, a mechanic for Toyota, said yesterday: ‘People are still not taking this outbreak seriously and that upsets me. I take it personally.
‘Even before we went into lockdown, when we went into a supermarket we were anxious because our daughter is susceptible to viruses.
‘But people still don’t seem to have any concept of personal space.
‘There was a picture I’ve seen of a beach where there was an ice cream hut open with people queuing outside like it was a normal day. It horrifies me that people still are not sticking to the lockdown measures. It does upset both of us.’
In a Facebook post about her daughter’s diagnosis, Mrs Bates, a travel agent, wrote: ‘Both myself and Wayne are utterly heartbroken yet again that we are in a position where we may lose our little girl if she doesn’t carry on fighting.
‘Please, please, please keep Erin in your prayers. We can’t lose her over this virus. She has battled through too much – we need her, she completes us.’
She added: ‘I hope that those who haven’t taken this virus serious read this and I hope it now sinks in.’
Mr Bates said that when their daughter was born, he and his wife were ‘over the moon’ because they had been trying without success for 10 years and had been told they might not be able to have children.
But Erin’s first six months have been traumatic due to the discovery of a series of medical conditions, one of which required open heart surgery in December.
In January, she also suffered respiratory syncytial virus, which causes bronchiolitis and pneumonia in babies and can be fatal.
Further conditions affected her airways, tracheomalacia and bronchomalacia. These disorders affect the windpipe and its branches into the lungs, and already required use of the CPAP machine.
Her parents had been staying at Alder Hey’s Ronald McDonald House, on-site accommodation for the families of poorly children.
Mr Bates, whose daughter is currently in a stable condition, said: ‘She is only alive due to the staff at Alder Hey, the doctors and nurses. I feel like the nurses especially have bought into Erin and have an emotional attachment to getting her better. They are looking after my wife and my girl, which is excellent.
‘Although she was already in the hospital before getting the virus, it could still have reached her because people were not social distancing (and) brought the virus into the hospital.
‘When you hear people had ‘pre-existing conditions’ and die from coronavirus, it’s written down as ‘well, that happens’.
‘But we have been through a lot, we’ve been through the lowest of the low in recent months, and we’ve been told before that there was a chance we were going to lose her.
‘I think she has beaten the odds so many times, we are positive she can beat this. Before this (the coronavirus) her outlook was really good.’
Mr and Mrs Bates have received an outpouring of support on social media, with friends describing their daughter as a ‘brave little fighter’.
One friend, Caroline Brennan, commented under the photograph of Erin after she contracted covid-19, saying: ‘The NHS should use this photo of your brave daughter to show the public why they should stay indoors and the anxiety it is causing to her parents.’