Victoria Christie’s story
After taking Ronnie home at 26 days old, Viki took to Facebook to thank Ronnie’s dad Shaun and other family and friends – as well as staff on the neonatal unit.
Describing the staff as “real-life angels” she said: “So after 23 days on the James Cook Neonatal Unit our miracle, baby boy is finally being discharged, with a clean bill of health.
“I’m sure we are all guilty of taking for granted, that when your baby is born they will automatically come home with you. I can safely say that this whole experience has changed me, profoundly and absolutely.
“I have searched the darkest corners of my soul, that I didn’t even know existed, and I could not have done it without you Shaun. Your absolute, unconditional love and support is like nothing I’ve ever known, and for that, I love you more than I thought possible.
“To our family and friends who have kept us going and looked after us when we couldn’t quite manage ourselves, we are forever grateful for your love, kindness and generosity.
“The biggest thank you of all has to go to every single member of staff on the ward who have worked tirelessly to save our baby boy’s life and bring us all to this point.
“There are no words that will ever express my gratitude. They have gone above and beyond what any nurse, doctor or health care assistant need do in the course of their job – when I said real life angels I genuinely meant it.
“We are going to take our little boy home where he belongs and be thankful every single day for what we have.”
Joseph, Amelia and Matilda’s story
Having one premature baby is stressful enough, but imagine having triplets!
Victoria and Mark Carter, from Newcastle, welcomed triplets Amelia, Joseph and Matilda into the world five weeks ago, and the babies are receiving treatment at the specialist intensive care unit at the James Cook neonatal ward.
Born at 28 weeks, triplets Matilda (1lb 13oz), Amelia (2lbs 8oz) and Joseph (2lb 9oz) are all making steady progress and are keeping both staff and parents very busy with nappy changes, feeding and demands for attention.
Mum Victoria said: “We have been here for five weeks now and the staff are so supportive. We find that they are consistently communicating with each other and discussing our babies and how to take their progress further.
“The staff almost see that we are slightly more vulnerable, in the sense that we are away from our friends and family. So they tend to chat to us a bit more and pair us up with other parents in similar situations so that we have a network of friends.
“Although we are originally from the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle, we were transferred to James Cook as there was no space there. We have been really lucky in the sense that we got a flat at the hospital so that we are always close to the children. It’s so reassuring!”
The neonatal ward at James Cook treats over 400 babies every year and its specialist care saves the lives of babies not only born in Teesside but across North Yorkshire and the North East.
Dr Shalabh Garg, neonatal consultant, said: “We provide intensive care for babies that need to go on breathing machines (ventilators) or babies who have an infection and need support for their heart or blood pressure or need cooling treatment. We have well equipped neonatal transport service and retrieve babies from other hospitals who need intensive care.
You can see from the amount of cards and Christmas presents that we receive from parents that they are really thankful for the work we do here.”
Jensen and Amelia’s story
When Joanne Wombwell went into labour at just 23 weeks and five days she was rushed from Chesterfield to Middlesbrough to give her twins the best chance of survival.
Local hospitals did not have the facilities or expertise to deal with such complex births so Joanne, 31, had to make a 999 ambulance journey to The James Cook University Hospital in heavy snow with husband Tony, 39, following closely behind.
A few hours later Jensen and Amelia came into the world. The tiny babies each weighed less than 2lb and had to undergo heart surgery at the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle and laser eye surgery at James Cook.
It was touch and go for a while as both babies suffered further complications but after four months on the neonatal ward the twins were allowed home to Derbyshire.
Joanne and Tony were so impressed with the care and support they received that they nominated the neonatal team as NHS Heroes – A new national scheme designed to recognise the great work that individuals and teams do every day in the NHS.
Joanne said: “The unit gave us amazing care and support and saved our twins and there is no way we could ever repay them. If anyone deserves this recognition they do. They were all amazing – the nurses, the healthcare assistants, the doctors, everyone.”
Tony added: “Every family that we met on the unit said the same – the care was amazing and the staff were lovely. I don’t think we could have got through it without them.”