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Shannon Leighanna's Story   — Staci Leighanna, Jacksonville, FL, USA

I am a Group B Strep Victim 4 Years ago I went into Pre-Term labor in my 26th week and delivered my daughter, Shannon Leighanna Donato at 1 LB 2oz. The blessing of a child can only come from God, as it is a gift that only he can provide. I knew my life would never be the same. Wow! Me a mother. I knew my baby would be so loved.

Morning sickness, or let me say, evening sickness was my best friend the first trimester. The problems ceased after that. I loved being pregnant along with "my little one" growing inside me.

Things started to change around 22 weeks when I hadn't felt any movement or kicking. Due to working in the medical profession, I was advised to call my GYN. What a relief it was to see her move and turn over on the sonogram screen. Two weeks later a discharge appeared and my doctors office advised me it was normal. By then I was really worried due to still not having felt her move. I knew then something wasn't right. 26 weeks I was admitted into Labor and Delivery with severe abdominal pain.

I was advised I would stay a couple of days and then released on bed rest at home. My husband was a truck driver and he had a load to Miami ( as we were in Jacksonville). Since I was going to be laying there all day, he went on his way. The next day about 11:30am I rolled over in bed and my water broke. A fever appeared and I was taken off all medications. Basically, my baby was coming that day at 26 weeks. Scared to death and all alone, my wonderful supervisor calmed me down. She left work, even missing a meeting, but stayed with me the whole time. Shannon was born at 5:51 May 2,1994. The next two days spent in NICU left me with haunting memories. It was a matter of hour by hour. Her respirator was turned up, seizures and then a code. Her little hand was so tiny it could barely wrap around my pinkie finger, but she knew I was there. She was revived and we were approached by the staff with a decision to make. "If she coded again, DO you want us to save her? Turn off the machines and remove the tubes so you can go into a private room and hold her." A chance to hold my little girl is all I wanted but not to take her life. My husband and I agreed we were not playing God, and we would not take her life.

Shannon was then baptized by the hospital chaplain and at 10:40am on May 4th, Shannon Leighanna became one of God's little angels. I cherish every moment I spent with my daughter, however I preferred our last moments spent with her not to of been sitting in a private room, holding her as I watched her change colors. We as parents are not supposed to bury our children. My stay was extended for 2 weeks due to the severity of GBS infection, along with a fever of 105 which they couldn't get under control.

Group B Streptococcus (GBS) is a bacteria normally found in the vagina and or lower intestine of 15-35% of all healthy adult women. Approximately 12,000 infants in the United States are infected with GBS each year. It causes an estimated 2,000 infants deaths a year and leaves other infants with mental and physical handicaps.

GBS infections are more common then other illnesses for which a pregnant women are screened, such as rubella, Downs Syndrome and Spinal Bifida. Yet GBS remains unknown to the public. The next question I have is WHY? Testing and preventative treatments are available to prevent many of these infections. Physicians normally will not test you unless you have history of GBS or in Pre-Term labor. Some have started testing at 36 weeks, but what good is that. GBS could appear and be treated with antibiotics and then reappear while in labor. Physicians are not educating their patients about GBS. My daughter had to suffer and die in order for the "Next Time" to take closer precautions. Next time is too late for Shannon.

I believe physicians should be routinely testing. Education is the issue and if physicians will not take the time to explain this number one cause of life threatening infection in newborns, then we must pass the word on. I am looking for information on any local groups in the Florida area or How I can be more involved . Please contact me by email and Please pass this to a friend. It could mean a baby's life.

Thank you

Staci — Jacksonville, Florida

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