Providing state-of-the-art equipment
Saving babies' lives
Thanks to donations, we’ve been able to buy vital equipment like incubators and ventilators to care for tiny babies in intensive care. We've also been able to buy light therapy treatment for premature babies with jaundice, as well as baby nests, Zaky hands and breast pumps which help mums and dads to be more involved in the care of their baby.
Evelina London’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) is one of the country’s leading units specialising in the care of newborn babies who are premature and very sick. Up to 900 babies are cared for in NICU each year, some of which have been born as much as 16 weeks early and weigh just 500 grams.
The Evelina London NICU is unique in the capital because its specialists are able to diagnose babies when they’re still in the womb and, because intensive care is next to the maternity ward, premature and sick babies can be treated as soon as they’re born.
Amy and James were over the moon to be expecting their second child through IVF. Unfortunately, a 20 week scan at their local hospital in Chelmsford revealed abnormalities with their unborn baby’s heart.
George had a serious condition called transposition of the greater arteries (TGA), when de-oxygenated blood gets pumped around the body instead of oxygenated blood. Babies with TGA will die quickly after they are born without emergency treatment to keep the heart duct open which allows their blood to mix.
George was initially meant to be treated at the Royal Brompton Hospital but, when he was born six weeks early on 27 November 2012, there was no room available. Thankfully, Evelina London’s NICU had space for George, so he was rushed to the hospital in the early hours of the morning.
Although this was a distressing time for Amy and James, the NICU nurses offered them great reassurance by explaining everything that was happening and what the next steps would be.
‘We were made to feel so at ease in such a terrible time,’ says Amy. ‘The staff were truly amazing.’
George was cared for in NICU for 17 days before he was transferred to intensive care (PICU) to prepare for surgery. He had to breathe through a ventilator and suffered complications when his gut began to fail, but fortunately this was spotted quickly by NICU nurses.
‘People always say to us they do not know how we coped,’ says Amy. ‘The truth is, it was the staff that got us through. They cared for George like he was their own son.
‘They comforted, supported and chatted to us like we were old friends, and explained everything as many times as we needed.’
On the 14 December, George had a successful eight and half hour operation to switch round his arteries. Nine days later, he was able to leave Evelina London to be transferred to a local hospital and he was finally able to go home with his family on New Year's Eve.
‘Nothing we can ever do or say will ever be enough to thank everyone who played a part in saving our baby boy's life,’ says Amy. ‘We always say that when they saved George, they saved us too.‘
How donations helped George
Thanks to donors, we’ve been able to buy ventilators for NICU that enable premature babies to breathe, and incubators that monitor and maintain body temperature.
‘George was entirely dependent on ventilators until nearly six days after surgery, so for the first 23 days of his life, without ventilators he would have died, simple as that,’ says Amy.
George was too poorly to regulate his own temperature, which is extremely dangerous for tiny and sick babies. Without the warmth of the incubator and special blankets that gave him light therapy when he became extremely jaundiced, he would never have been able to get better.’
The blankets were also bought with donations, as were baby nests and Zaky hands that help tiny babies feel safe and secure, and are crucial to their development.
Evelina London’s NICU has one of the highest rates of babies going home on breast milk, which is important for their growth. This is partly thanks to the breast pumps that were bought with donations, enabling babies to still receive breast milk even if they are too poorly to breast feed.
‘The breast pump facilities were utterly amazing,’ says Amy. ‘Not only was the room lovely, we were able to take bottles without having to bother nurses, and even better - they had pumps on wheels. This meant I could pull a screen around George’s cot, wheel the machine in and express while looking at George. This made me feel better as I didn’t have to leave him, plus looking, touching and smelling him actually encouraged milk production.’
Why Amy and James chose to fundraise
‘How on earth can you thank people that gave your child the chance to live?’ she says.
‘There are no words or gifts that can possibly give back or say thank you in the way we want, so we thought that the best way to give back was to raise money.’
James, Amy and her sisters chose to fundraise by running the Bupa 10,000 in 2013 and again this year. In total the family has £3,200 for Evelina London Children's Hospital.
'The race was very emotional, it was an incredible experience,' says Amy. 'The crowds, the sights, the sense of achievement - it's an incredible feeling. Plus we all got fit and pushed ourselves to be healthier and stronger. I would recommend the race to anyone.'
Amy continues to support NICU by collecting donations of tiny baby clothes and blankets for the unit and is going to hold fundraising toy stalls at car boot sales.
We still need your help
‘Evelina London doesn’t just save lives, it offers life-long care,’ says Amy. ‘They support families and make the worst time of your family’s life more bearable. Even the smallest of items make the biggest difference, so even the smallest of donations can do good.’
With your generosity, we can save the lives of more tiny babies like George. Please give a gift to Evelina London today.