Saturday 17 November is World Prematurity Day and Luton and Dunstable University Hospital (L&D) will be at Luton Town Football Club celebrating with their Supporters who have chosen the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit’s Parents Accommodation as their Charity of the Year.
At the dedicated match day, some of the families who have used the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) together with staff and the L&D’s Fundraising team and volunteers, will join forces with members of Luton Town Supporters Trust to shake tins, all in aid of the Parents Accommodation.
Six NICU graduates and their parents will also get to meet the players in a dug-out experience before the match kicks off, and will then welcome the players and supporters to the pitch with flags. At half time, L&D staff and NICU families will be invited down to the pitch to take part in Hot Shots and other activities.
Sarah Amexheta, Head of Fundraising at the L&D, said: “We are extremely grateful to Luton Town Football Club and their Supporters Trust for choosing the NICU parents accommodation as their Charity of the Year and for giving us the opportunity today for some of our NICU miracles and their families to come along, meet the players and supporters, and enjoy a great game of football!.”
Funds collected on the day will go towards the £15,000 a year running costs of the NICU Parents Accommodation. Located next door to the hospital, it enables parents who are based a long way from the hospital to rest and sleep while being as close as possible to their baby on the unit.
The aim is to create a home-from-home environent so that parents can get as much rest as possible without having to drive for hours each day, between home and NICU. The accommodation has three double bedrooms and a kitchen and is free for parents to use.
As part of the lead up to World Prematurity Day staff from NICU will also be holding a cake sale and raffle on Friday 16 November on the ground floor of Surgical Block at the L&D, to raise money for the unit. One lucky person will have the opportunity to win a signed Luton Town Football Club shirt!
The Neonatal Unit at the L&D is one of only three units in the East of England which provides intensive care (Level 3) for the most premature and sick newborn babies. One in seven babies born at the L&D will need admission to the unit and support from the Neonatal team. More than 900 premature and sick babies are treated in our NICU every year. The unit consists of three separate nurseries, one for intensive care, one for special care and one for high dependency. There are 37 cots in the Unit in total of which 11 are intensive care cots, 8 are for high dependency and 18 are special care cots.
To find out more about how you can help call our Fundraising team on 01582 718 289.
Three families who have had experience of NICU tell their stories here:
Parents’ story by Helena
“Little Theo arrived in the world at 3.29am after 23 hours of labour. Theo was born too rapidly for his body to adjust; he wasn’t breathing and he was unresponsive. The red button was pushed and my partner & I were told not to worry as our new little boy was rushed out of the room. Dean wasn’t able to cut the cord as originally planned, but he was able to follow our son and take that all important first photo.
For 3 hours I was unable to see Theo and even then I wasn’t allowed to hold him; I had to wait until the following day but that was only for the shortest time. Theo had to stay in an incubator for twenty four hours, and was hooked up to a respirator, so we could only touch him through little access holes. Once he was taken out of intensive care we could actually hold him properly for the first time, he was still hooked up to feeding tubes but, thankfully, the respirator had gone.
I stayed in hospital for five days. Theo was moved to the high dependency unit and I was able to go there every three hours to cuddle and breastfeed him. Thankfully, Theo took to the breast straight away.
After three days, he was able to go into the special care unit where he stayed for two days. Then, five days after he arrived he was pronounced well enough to go home, finally!
The care we both received in NICU was incredible; the staff were amazing and I just couldn’t have asked for more from them. They were so supportive and friendly and took the time to explain what was happening in layman’s terms so that we could understand what was going on with our little boy. The staff didn’t try to hide the reality but were always positive which made us feel not only comforted, but valued, too.”
Parents’ story by Sabine
“Mason was born suddenly at 28 weeks by emergency C section on 28th March 2014, weighing a tiny 2.7lbs (1.2kgs). He spent nearly 3 months in the care of an amazing team in NICU L&D, who saved his life. He suffered with chronic lung disease, 2 hernia’s, various infections, he needed blood transfusions, was tube fed and needed lots of medication each day. Over time Mason grew bigger and stronger and finally came home on 10th June.
He is now a happy cheeky chappy 4 year old, he started school in September and already received an award for his great work! We will be forever grateful to the amazing NICU team they really are true life superheroes and I now believe miracles do happen!!!”
Parents’ story by Farzana
“Born on the 28 May 2018, Hayaa arrived at 27 weeks and 4 days. Being a pre term baby weighing only 850 grams, Hayaa was taken from the Delivery Suite straight to the unit where she was put on a ventilator.
The first time we saw Hayaa laying in the incubator with all those tubes and wires attached to her was the most frightening ten minutes of our lives. We didn’t know what to think, what to expect and how we’d ever be able to take her home. Those ten minutes of fear and uncertainty soon changed to hope and optimism. The wonderful nurse looking after Hayaa reassured us that she would be fine and was in the best hands. The nurse spoke to us about what to expect and explained that it looks a lot worse than it is. The nurse’s calming nature and confidence really made us feel a bit better about things.
The staff in the intensive care unit are absolutely amazing. The consultants and nurses are highly skilled, professional and compassionate. We knew our baby would receive an outstanding level of care. After around twelve days Hayaa came off the ventilator and onto a CPAP breathing machine and then quickly progressed off the CPAP and onto a less intensive machine. Shortly after, Hayaa moved out of Intensive Care and into HDU. What a relief!
Hayaa stayed in HDU for six weeks and was now showing real signs of being a normal baby. There were of course ups and downs but the consultants and nurses were always on hand to ensure the downs were minimised.
Last stop was the Special Care Unit which is where babies go to prepare for home. We were able to do normal things like bathe her, feed her, change her clothes and pretty much everything you would do if you were at home. I have to say though, at this stage it felt like we were at home.
Hayaa spent 86 days in hospital and we spent 12, 14, 16 hours a day in the hospital. The nurses and consultants were like family. So caring, so helpful and genuinely the most compassionate people we’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting. We always felt they had our child’s best interests at heart which made leaving Hayaa at night a lot easier. We honestly couldn’t have wished for a more amazing group of people to take care of our precious baby.
Hayaa is home now and although she is on oxygen is like a normal baby. The baby we first saw in that incubator and on a ventilator is not the baby we see now. The hope and optimism that first nurse gave us has been realised. We also receive so much support from the very special oxygen at home team. Words cannot express how thankful we are, and our feelings towards all the staff at L&D NICU.
Real Life Superheroes!”