Page last updated at 17:16 GMT, Friday, 19 June 2009 18:16 UK

Baby survives 'incurable' illness

Baby Grace Vincent and her grandmother Leigh Brice
Baby Grace is recovering at home

A baby diagnosed with "incurable" meningitis made a miraculous recovery after her life-support machine was switched off, her mother has said.

Grace Vincent was six weeks old when she contracted a rare form of the brain disease and was taken to hospital.

She spent four days in intensive care before her family from Newcastle opted to switch off life support equipment.

But they were stunned when the girl, nicknamed Amazing Grace, began to breathe on her own.

She is now recovering and her senses of smell and touch and her vocal ability are returning.

Her mother Emily Ashurst, 26, said Grace was born without complications on 3 April.

Her partner Pete Vincent, a 26-year-old marine, had just returned from Afghanistan and was settling back to family life when their daughter fell sick.

I think it is miraculous given the experience of five weeks ago
Grace's mother Emily

But on 16 May she was taken to Newcastle General Hospital after Ms Ashurst found her distressed, with tell-tale purple patches on her skin.

Doctors diagnosed Grace with an infection of late-onset Group B Streptococcus (GBS).

The bacteria are present in nearly quarter of women of childbearing age and can be passed on to babies during labour.

Scans also showed she had suffered "catastrophic brain damage".

Ms Ashurst said: "We came to the decision to switch off the machine. She was baptised and all the family came to say goodbye.

"We held her in our arms and waited for her last breath."

But hours later she was still breathing and has now been discharged from hospital.

Ms Ashurst, who has a six-year-old daughter Megan from a previous relationship, said: "Her breathing has stabilised, showing that her brain stem is not damaged.

"She has opened one eye but is still blind. Her pupils have begun dilating back to their normal size.

"I think it is miraculous given the experience of five weeks ago."

Meningitis UK said early diagnosis and treatment was vital in cases of late-onset GBS infection.

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