A MOTHER who nearly lost her son William due to a serious infection when he was a baby, is thanking medics who saved his life by rowing more than 200 miles.

Ruth Calder-Potts, 39, who lives near Bere Alston, has been training hard since October to row, unsupported, the length of the notoriously stormy Irish Sea, from Ireland to Wales with a team for charity.

The youngest of Ruth’s three children was only a few weeks old when he became seriously ill and admitted to Derriford Hospital.

William, now aged two, underwent lifesaving treatment in the paediatric high dependency unit when he was eight weeks old to treat him for sepsis.

Ruth said: ’When William was first ill we thought it was just a cold, but it lingered and he did not improve. He ended up staying in hospital for a week whilst the doctors treated him for a serious infection and life-threatening sepsis. He was put on emergency medication, but the source of the infection wasn’t properly diagnosed at the time because the paediatric team were concentrating on saving his life, which they did and they were wonderful on the paediatric unit.’

She added: ‘Four weeks later Wiliam became ill again and the doctors had more time to find out where the infection started. William was diagnosed with urinary reflux, meaning his urine can flow the wrong way and can cause issues for his kidneys. He’s been ok ever since. However, it is likely he could have reduced kidney function for life. If he is ill again, despite the medication, there’s a chance they’d have to operate. But he might grow out of reflux as he develops and is more active.’

William is on daily medication, but Ruth and his father Hylton have been worried he will be seriously ill again. She said: ‘I blamed myself and thought I’d done something wrong. We were always stressed and constantly worried if William was slightly ill he’d have to go into hospital again.’

The idea of rowing the Irish Sea (from Cork on Saturday, August 5 for four days continuous rowing and ending in Caernarfon) began with her friend Arabella Lloyd, of Ivybridge, to raise money for the paediatric unit through the Plymouth Hospitals Charity. Arabella is supporting the Marine Conservation Society and the Irish Sea row will be a ‘warm-up’ for her planned transatlantic sponsored row later.

Ruth said: ‘I’m nervous as it gets nearer. But I’m getting fitter and have rowed with the Tamar and Tavy Gig Club and learned with the Mayflower Offshore Rowing Club in Plymouth and trained on my rowing machine with Arabella. I needed this adventure to help get over the trauma of William’s illness and to help the teams who looked after him.’

To sponsor Ruth on her JustGiving page see https://shorturl.at/avFK1