Thanks to charitable donations, the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at King’s College Hospital is now equipped with more more cutting-edge life-saving equipment to help save the lives of our tiniest patients.
King’s used to have only one cooling machine to help babies who have been deprived of oxygen during birth. That meant if a second baby needed treatment they had to be transferred elsewhere, which was far from ideal and extremely upsetting for parents. Dulwich Prep School held a summer ball to raise the funds to purchase a second machine.
“It’s a very difficult journey for families in NICU", said senior sister Kim Adler. "Anything that we can do to make that journey easier is incredible, and donations allow us to do that in many ways.”
Making a difference for Eleanor
Eleanor was born at home in 2016 and rushed to King’s when she didn’t take her first breath properly. A lack of oxygen during birth can result in brain injury for the baby, so cooling them within their first few hours increases their chance of survival without brain damage. Eleanor was put on the cooling machine and her temperature brought down to 33 degrees for 72 hours.
Eleanor is now a completely healthy baby and her mum Mariah said:
"I’m so glad King’s had the resources to save her life. If we’d had to bounce around different hospitals to find a place that had a cooling machine, I don’t think Eleanor would be healthy like she is. We’re very grateful.”
The school’s donations also helped to buy a new Giraffe incubator. Unlike other incubators, the top rises, meaning it’s much easier for parents to access their baby. The clever design also means that the sides can drop, transforming it into a surface for medical and surgical procedures, if necessary.
Kim Adler, senior sister at the NICU, said:
“For families seeing their baby in an incubator for the first time, it can feel like there’s a barrier between them. The nice thing about the Giraffe is that if they’re standing at the bedside and the top is up, there’s nothing between them and their babies. That totally changes their attitude towards the contact that they can have with their babies, and encourages and improves bonding.”
How Zaky hands helped little Suzanne
Donations have also funded products such as Zaky hands and bendy bumpers, which help premature babies who lack muscle strength. A Zaky is a hand-shaped beanbag designed to simulate the shape and touch of the parents’ hands. They encourage proper development and provide comfort and security.
Suzanne was born extremely prematurely at 23 weeks. Her mum Sibel said:
“I can sleep with it next to my skin overnight, then she can have it throughout the day and it has my scent on it. It helps to keep her tucked in and she feels like I’m still there.”