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Jason Watkins, 60, and his wife Clara Francis tragically lost their youngest daughter in 2011 to sepsis, after doctors incorrectly diagnosed the toddler with croup. As the couple prepare to open up for the first time on the traumatic event, Clara recalled feeling “under suspicion” after the youngster’s death as police investigated the tragedy.
They are set to star in a new ITV documentary Jason And Clara: In Memory of Maude on March 30.
The doc sees the couple offer help and support to other families going through similar tragic grievances.
The couple, who now share a son, Gilbert, 11, and a daughter, Bessie, 14, had welcomed their second daughter Maude in 2008.
Throughout the latter part of 2010, young Maude became ill with what first seemed to be a chest infection, but worsened to the point that Jason and Clara took her to A&E.
The family were given antibiotics and steroids and sent on their way, none-the-wiser to the actual health condition Maude was battling.
Her condition continued to worsen and the family returned to A&E twice in the 48 hours before Maude’s death, this time being told their little girl had croup, a childhood condition that affects the windpipe, airways and voice box.
The parents were also told that her condition was improving and so returned home, but hours later they were awoken on New Year’s Day 2011 by three-year-old Bessie who was concerned that she couldn’t wake up her little sister.
Clara recalled in the aftermath of Maude’s sudden death, while she and Jason tried to figure out what could’ve happened in those meagre hours after leaving A&E, the police investigation left her feeling somewhat unnerved as she came to terms with the tragic event.
She shared with this week’s Radio Times: “The police took away her mattress and all the medicine in the house, because they had to check everything, and you immediately think: ‘I’m under suspicion, I’ve done something wrong.’
“You’re the parent and your child is dead, and you don’t know why.”
When the couple finally received their daughter’s death certificate, the cause of death was labelled flu and streptococcus.
However, it would take months to reveal what had actually killed little Maude, a life-threatening immune response; sepsis which kills roughly 48,000 people in the UK every year.
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Jason revealed: “It was never mentioned once in the medical journey. The question was never asked.”
Clara devastatingly recalled being wrapped in guilt, believing that if she had been more outspoken and forceful in the doctors rooms her daughter may still be alive.
The actor is currently an ambassador for the UK Sepsis Trust in honour of his daughter, adding: “More needs to be done. The signs are very subtle and can easily be missed even by health professionals.”
The Crown star admitted that his avid campaigning was a coping mechanism to deal with Maude’s death, while Clara revealed in the aftermath of their loss she was overcome by a completely different desire.
The jewellery maker suddenly wanted to have another child, which resulted in their son Gilbert.
The couple have openly spoken about Maude to her siblings, and Clara recalled Gilbert branding himself a “replacement child” when he was seven.
She shared: “I don’t think Jason and I would have had a third child, because we were so very delighted with our two girls.
“So Gilbert is this person that’s come along out of a terrible tragedy.”
The latest issue of Radio Times featuring Jason and Clara’s interview is available to purchase now.
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