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Leicester Hospitals Charity Launches Poignant Christmas Appeal to Help Premature Babies

Leicester Hospitals Charity’s Christmas Appeal 2022 is rallying the community to raise vital funds to save the lives of babies born early or who have become unwell after birth.

According to the charity, it only takes £6,000 to purchase a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machine that will provide lifesaving breathing support for babies in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Leicester Hospitals.

As part of a fundraising appeal, they have shared the story of a couple, whose baby’s life was saved by one of these machines, after he was born 10 weeks early at Leicester’s General Hospital.

Picture: Leicester Hospitals Charity

Four years ago, Jess and her husband Ben were expecting a wonderful Christmas present – the birth of their baby boy Eli. Jess dreamt of her Boxing Day due date and holding her new-born baby in her arms. 

However, at 28 weeks of Jess’ pregnancy, things took a turn for the worse. Eli’s growth slowed down. Doctors calmed Jess’ fears by telling her they would monitor her baby and booked her in for extra scans.

Jess said: “I started to feel unwell. My body was swollen, and I was so tired. One day, I had a routine midwife appointment at the local GP surgery and my blood pressure was sky-high.”

Jess was admitted to the Leicester General Hospital for the night. Jess deteriorated the next day, and doctors recommended that she have an emergency caesarean section. Jess feared for her baby, she went on to say: “Despite my critical condition my only concern was for my baby. I wanted my baby Eli, to be safe.”

The doctors gave Jess a steroid injection to boost Eli’s lungs preparing him for the outside world. On Friday, 26 October, it was time to give birth. The Delivery Team told Jess that she might not get to hold her baby because he needed to go straight to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). Eli was delivered ten weeks early, that night.

The team swaddled him in a special plastic wrapping to keep him warm and rushed him to the NICU. Meanwhile, Jess was stitched up and sent away to recovery. Jess was worried about her baby; she didn’t know how he was doing or if he’d even survived.

Picture: Leicester Hospitals Charity

Jess said: “At around 7:30 that evening, Ben went down to see Eli in the NICU. Ben video-called me from the Unit, and I saw Eli placed in an incubator on CPAP therapy. The CPAP machine helped Eli to breathe as his lungs were not fully developed.”

Ward Sister, Alison Nield said: “Eli was born very early and because Eli’s lungs were not fully developed, he needed lifesaving breathing support from a CPAP machine for the first 24 hours of his life.”

Thanks to the amazing care received in the NICU, Eli got stronger and stronger. Because of the steroids, Eli’s lungs were ok and within 24 hours he came off the CPAP. Jess and Ben were relieved and felt like he would make it through. 

Each CPAP machine costs £6,000 and will support thousands of babies like Eli who cannot breathe for themselves in their first weeks of life. Replacing a CPAP machine would be the best way to make sure more babies like Eli have access to the right care, at the right time, using the right piece of kit – giving them the chance to spend their first Christmas at home.

You can read Eli’s full story on the Leicester Hospitals Charity website and give a gift to help other babies be home for Christmas.