By Patrick B. Craine

NEWCASTLE, U.K., June 22, 2009 ( – Baby Grace Vincent, a U.K. baby who was diagnosed with meningitis at six weeks, has miraculously survived after her life-support system was turned off.

Baby Grace was born without complications on April 3 to Emily Ashurst, 26, and her partner, Pete Vincent, 26. Vincent, a marine, had just returned from service in Afghanistan when, on May 16, Ashurst found Grace in a state of distress, covered with the purple patches characteristic of meningitis.

She was diagnosed with late-onset Group B Streptococcus (GBS), a bacteria present in almost a quarter of women, which can be passed on to babies during labor. GBS can normally be discovered prior to labor and its transmission prevented with antibiotics.

Describing the incident, Ashurst said, “Within hours she got poorly. We watched her stop breathing. We watched them put an oxygen mask on her face.”

After four days, Grace had suffered what was described as “catastrophic brain damage.” 

“It was a bleak picture,” said Ashurst. “The doctors said they'd never seen a girl as poorly as Grace.”

“We came to the decision to switch off the machine. …She was baptized and all the family came to say goodbye.”

“Pete and I wanted to say goodbye on our own,” Ashurst continued, “and we were told she might gasp for air before she died. They put her in my arms before they disconnected her. We waited for her last breath.”

But miraculously, she never stopped breathing. About two weeks ago she was transferred, and doctors still expected she would die. Instead baby Grace stabilized and on Friday was sent home.

“Her breathing has stabilized,” Ms. Ashurst said, “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.”

“We don't look too far into the future and we are guided by Grace day by day. What she is doing now is amazing. Everyone has been calling her Amazing Grace.”