In the run up to Christmas Nottingham Children’s Hospital at QMC will be welcoming a new family member when their Robin Hood mascot introduces a new neonatal ‘sibling’, complete with incubator, as part of the hospital’s Big Appeal campaign (Thursday 7 December).
Robin will be joining the hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care Team at an event with families who have used neonatal services and their babies to officially welcome the new family member who will become the symbol for the hospital’s new Big Neonatal Appeal which is being led by Nottingham Hospitals Charity.
Each year there are 10,000 babies born at Nottingham’s hospitals, with more than 1,200 requiring dedicated specialist care from the hospital’s Neonatal teams. The birth weight of the babies ranges from 470 grams (just 1lb) right up to over 5kgs (11 1/2 lbs).
“Our Neonatal Intensive Care teams are dedicated to supporting premature and sick newborn babies and whatever the challenges our tiny patients face, all of them will benefit from our Big Neonatal Appeal,” said Dr Don Sharkey, Neonatal Consultant and Associate Professor of Neonatal Medicine at the QMC Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Nottingham Children’s Hospital.
“The Big Appeal will give us the opportunity to upgrade our family rooms where anxious parents can stay overnight to be near their poorly babies. Importantly, it will also ensure we have the most up to date diagnostic equipment which is vital in achieving good outcomes for our newborns and giving the most fragile of babies the best chance of a great start in life.”
Newborns such as Gideon Atkinson who was born 15 weeks prematurely on 4th March this year. Gideon’s mum, Nicola Atkinson, 35, said: “I was rushed to hospital with pre-eclampsia and doctors performed an emergency caesarean.
“Gideon weighed only 1lb 2oz and because of his prematurity, Gideon’s organs were not fully developed and he needed four operations before he was 4 months old.”
Nicola and her husband Brian, 35, made the decision to move to the Parent and family Accommodation at Queen’s Medical Centre to be close to Gideon while he received treatment. “Brian and I were basically living at the QMC, sleeping in a Parent & Family room. Suddenly our lives just revolved around the hospital. I didn’t leave QMC for a month.”
Gideon went home on 9th August this year and he’s now a happy, healthy nine month old, but it’s likely that he’ll need an oxygen tank until he’s two years old.
Nicola said: “We now celebrate three birthdays for Gideon: the day he was born, the day he was due, and the day that he came home from hospital.”
The Big Neonatal Appeal will become a festive focus for the Children’s Hospital in the run up to Christmas with the launch kicking off a Countdown to Christmas social media campaign #BigAppealForTinyPatients. This will showcase daily the many amazing aspects of the Neonatal Intensive Care Team’s work, encouraging members of the public to give generously to the Big Appeal.
Stephanie Smith, Clinical Director for Nottingham Children’s Hospital, said: “A year ago we launched our Big Appeal for Nottingham Children’s Hospital, focused on upgrading facilities, providing new diagnostic equipment and research to support children who need care in our hospital. One year on we are now delighted to be incorporating our outstanding Neonatal Intensive Care Services as part of this.”
Each year Nottingham Children’s Hospital helps over 60,000 children and young people from Nottingham and across the East Midlands who have health issues ranging from cancer, leukaemia and kidney disease, to brittle bones, spinal problems, respiratory issues or who need organ transplants.
Within the hospital there are two Neonatal Intensive Care Units specialising in treating and caring for premature and sick newborn babies. Both units are located next to the labour and maternity wards where the experienced Neonatal teams work closely with midwives and obstetricians, as well as other specialists, such as children’s surgeons and specialist paediatricians.
Chief Executive of Nottingham Hospitals Charity, Barbara Cathcart whose team is leading the Big Appeal fundraising campaign stressed the impact the appeal will have for local families: “This campaign will help us make a huge difference to children like Gideon Atkinson. It is all about helping the hospital provide the best possible care for our tiny patients with up to the minute equipment and in a child friendly environment, making their experience less frightening, more comfortable and with better outcomes.”
The Big Appeal’s target is to raise £4 million over the next four years. Public who want to support The Big Appeal can either donate by texting ‘NUHC13’ and either £1, £2, £3, £5 or £10 to 70010 to choose their amount, or can go to the Nottingham Hospital Charity’s Big Appeal or can call the Charity’s team on 0115 962 7905 to make a donation.