New mum dead from brain infection hours after C-section

A Gold Coast mother has died hours after an emergency C-section, having contracted a brainl infection, which may have been passed on from her own toddler.

Imogen Petrak was 36 weeks pregnant when she was rushed to Gold Coast University Hospital with severe swelling of her brain after complaining of an ear infection.

On July 14, baby Eleanor was delivered four weeks premature, but tragically her 35-year-old mother suffered catastrophic brain damage hours later and died.

Eleanor was born four weeks premature, but her mother Imogen Petrak suffered catastrophic brain damage hours later and died. Picture: GoFundMe
Eleanor was born four weeks premature, but her mother Imogen Petrak suffered catastrophic brain damage hours later and died. Picture: GoFundMe

Blood tests confirmed she died from pneumococcal meningitis, the Daily Telegraph reported.

It is suspected her unvaccinated 17-month old son JB, who was also unwell in the days leading up to his mother’s death, may have passed on the deadly disease.

The vaccine for the pneumococcal infection is on the National Immunisation Program Schedule and recommended to be given to babies at two, four and six months.

Eleanor was released from hospital at eight days old. Her father John, said he had mixed feelings about welcoming his daughter into the world and saying goodbye to his wife the same day.

“The only way I can explain it was feeling every emotion at the same time. Worry, sadness, happiness, joy — everything all at once,” he told the Gold Coast Bulletin.

“It would’ve been so hard if I lost Eleanor too but God spared her for us.”

It is suspected her unvaccinated 17-month old son JB may have passed on the deadly disease. Picture: GoFundMe
It is suspected her unvaccinated 17-month old son JB may have passed on the deadly disease. Picture: GoFundMe

Mr Petrak said he and his wife knew they were having a girl and it was heartbreaking she wasn’t able to meet her.

“Imogen’s biggest dream was to see our daughter and she didn’t get to do that.

“We knew we were having a girl and she was just aching to see her. She had all her dresses picked out,” he said.

The widower now has to grapple with not only the loss of his wife, but also raising a premmie and a toddler, on his own.

John Petrak now has to grapple with not only the loss of his wife, but also raising a premmie and a toddler on his own. Picture: GoFundMe
John Petrak now has to grapple with not only the loss of his wife, but also raising a premmie and a toddler on his own. Picture: GoFundMe

Mr Petrak, 38, said he met Eleanor four years ago at church a day after he asked God for a wife.

“I’m not one for coincidences but one night about 11.30 I prayed for God to give me a wife. I had never done that before and the very next day a lady came up to me at church and introduced me to Imogen,” he told the Bulletin.

After initially declining an offer from his pastor to set up a crowdfunding page, he allowed a friend Renee King to set up a GoFundMe page, which has already raised more than $118,000 in just two weeks.

The generous donations will cover Ms Petrak‘s funeral costs and allow Mr Petrak “a buffer over the next year whilst he is figuring out how to navigate this new life,” according to the page.

JB Petrak with his mother Imogen on the day she died. Picture: GoFundMe
JB Petrak with his mother Imogen on the day she died. Picture: GoFundMe

“Imogen was loved by all that crossed her path, she had the
biggest heart and sweetest loving spirit, an incredible selfless mother and cherished wife,” was written on a page.

“I’ve written a thank you [note] to go online and ‘thank you’ is all I can say,” Mr Petrak said.

“It seems like it’s not enough but that’s all I’ve got.”

To donate, visit the GoFundMe page.

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