A seriously ill child who fought the killer bug that has claimed the lives of three premature babies is lucky to be alive today, her father has said.
Gary McCann hit out at efforts to control the spread of the killer bacteria pseudomonas after it emerged three babies have died as a result of an outbreak at the Royal Jubilee Maternity Hospital in west Belfast.
His daughter Katie Maguire (4) was diagnosed with the deadly infection when she was an inpatient of the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in November.
Mr McCann said he saw little evidence of infection control measures to ensure other seriously sick children in the hospital did not fall ill with the infection.
“It seems like they have to wait until a child dies before they take action,” he said.
“Katie spent about four or five days in the intensive care unit at the children’s hospital before she was moved to a general ward, and that is when they told us she had pseudomonas.
“She was moved into her own room but we were never told about taking precautions so we wouldn’t spread the infection.
“We were able to move freely through the hospital and go and visit other patients and their families.
“There doesn’t seem to be anything in place to protect the other patients; many of them are very vulnerable like Katie to this infection.
“I was aware of pseudomonas so I was worried about Katie, but knowing what I know now about these families that have lost their babies, I feel very lucky.
“I feel extremely sorry for their families, but I feel lucky Katie got through this alive.”
Katie suffers from a rare form of epilepsy, has cerebral palsy and is blind.
The four-year-old was at the centre of a massive fundraising campaign, backed by the Belfast Telegraph, four years ago to raise cash for her treatment in a US hospital.
The toddler spent almost a year at the Children's Memorial Hospital in Chicago where she underwent a programme of treatment.
At the time Mr McCann hit out at the lack of services in Northern Ireland for children with complex conditions. He was speaking after Katie took her first steps while at the hospital.
“We are over the Moon about this and we feel it has justified our decision to travel to America to seek treatment for Katie,” he said at the time.
“She would never have made progress like that if she had stayed at home.”