Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Hundreds of Tiny Lives Saved by a Tyneside Hospital Gather to Simply Say 'Thank You'

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Hundreds of Tiny Lives Saved by a Tyneside Hospital Gather to Simply Say 'Thank You'

Article excerpt

Byline: Craig Thompson Chief Reporter

FIVE hundred reasons to support a Tyneside hospital gathered to say thank you.

Mums and dads of 500 premature babies from the Royal Victoria Infirmary's Special Care Baby Unit met for a reunion and to say a big thanks to the charity that has supported them.

The Tiny Lives Trust is a lifeline to families whose newborns are undergoing care in neonatal unit. Over 700 babies from across the region are cared for on the unit every year.

St James' Park hosted yesterday's reunion which saw children meeting Santa, enjoying a pantomime and getting up for a dance at the disco.

The first baby supported by Tiny Lives also made a VIP appearance.

Sophie Proud is now 19.

A former "sugarbag" baby born, she was born at 24 weeks and is today training to be a children's nurse.

Sophie, of County Durham, hit the headlines after she was born weighing just 1lb 7oz and became one of the earliest and poorliest babies to survive in the country.

She endured open-heart surgery, an operation on her eyes to stop her going blind, 10 bouts of pneumonia, blood poisoning which almost cost her a hand, and collapsed lungs.

But the little fighter defied the odds to make an amazing recovery. Since then she has worked as an ambassador for Tiny Lives, raising awareness of premature birth and tirelessly fundraising for the charity that funds a wide range of vital equipment, specialist training and research as well as emotional and financial support for families. After gaining an A* and two As in her A levels Sophie is now studying paediatric nursing at Teesside University. Her sister Aimee, is also a nurse.

"I wanted to be able to give something back to the doctors and nurses who never gave up on me and saved my life," said Sophie. "I also took part in volunteer work in Africa, working with orphans and victims of aids which helped me decide that I wanted a career in children's nursing. I'm in my second year and I am loving it. I hope to carry out my placement on the neonatal ward at the RVI.

"I am really passionate about raising awareness of premature birth and fighting the stereotype that it will hold you back. I do have some hearing loss and damage to my lungs, but this has not got in the way of my life.

"It is really hard for families with premature babies as they are often living day to day, and it is hard to look too far ahead. But I'd like to think that sharing my story can help them feel positive about the future."

Carol Meredith, Head of Tiny Lives, said: "The Tiny Lives Christmas Reunion is a very popular event in our calendar of support for families of premature babies. It brings together families whose children spent time on the RVI Special Care Baby Unit during their early critical days, weeks, and sometimes months of being a premature or ill newborn baby. …

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