In September 2010, having recently returned from the August bank holiday weekend, Tom and Helen Bertin were at home looking after their two children Fenn and Evie. Little did they realise the traumatic series of events that were about to unfold with their elder daughter Fenn, who was then just aged two. After a couple of days of appearing ‘out of sorts’ Fenn was soon taken very ill and admitted to Bath’s Royal United Hospital. She spent the next few weeks battling for her life, from what turned out to be a particularly aggressive Group A Streptococcal bacteria infection. To thank the RUH for their wonderful care and attention in helping save Fenn’s life, Helen chose to complete the 2013 Bath Half Marathon and raise funds for The Forever Friends Appeal charity. Helen joined Ted’s Team on Sunday 3rd March and collected sponsorship through friends, family and colleagues specifically to go towards medical equipment and amenities for the RUH Children’s Centre.
Once admitted to the RUH, at first it was not clear exactly what Fenn was suffering from. Under the care of Consultant Paediatrician Bernie Marden, it was thought to be meningitis, though her symptoms were not the usual indicators. Fenn was put on IV antibiotics and a series of tests and examinations were conducted to try and determine what kind of infection she was suffering from. Before long her condition rapidly deteriorated and her blood pressure dropped alarmingly low.
Helen Bertin comments: “Bernie Marden and his team did everything to try and keep control of her condition but it was recognised that they were fighting a losing battle. Fenn needed to get to Intensive Care and fast. It was thanks to the quick thinking and persuasive Bernie Marden that Fenn was transferred to Bristol’s PICU with what turned out to be a particularly aggressive Group A Streptococcal bacteria infection emanating from her right leg. The infection swept through her body at such a rate resulting in septicaemia that nearly claimed her life.”
After a week in intensive care, Fenn’s condition stablised though the infection proved challenging to manage with antibiotics alone. After a further month in hospital, she underwent 4 operations on her leg in an attempt to flush the infection out directly though not before her hip joint had become dislocated under the stress of the infection, resulting in her being encased in a hip spica cast for 6 weeks.
Today Fenn is a very happy 4 year old who lives a full and active life, though the aftermath of the infection resulted in growth plate damage to her femur which will require corrective surgery over the coming years until she stops growing. However it could have been a very different story.
Helen Bertin continues: “This episode has involved several medical teams for which we are so thankful for their care and expertise. Two years ago I raised money for Bristol’s Intensive Care Unit as a small way to say thank you. This year our fundraising efforts focus on Bath’s RUH Paediatric Unit, who made every effort to manage Fenn’s deteriorating condition and engineered the speedy transfer to Intensive Care before it was too late.”
Events & Community Officer for The Forever Friends Appeal, Jo Hones, comments: “Helen is just so passionate about saying thank you to the RUH for the wonderful care they gave Fenn, and we were therefore so thrilled to have her join Ted’s Team in the Bath Half this year. Thank you Helen for raising such a truly wonderful amount through The Forever Friends Appeal to go towards the Children’s Centre at the RUH.”
On Friday 10th May 2013, the Bertin family are presenting a cheque for just under £3,000 to Consultant Paediatrician Bernie Marden and Big Ted from The Forever Friends Appeal.