Saving lives and boosting development – wonderful new equipment for the NICU
Your invaluable support has helped provide the tiniest patients at King’s with lots of amazing new equipment. From the smaller items for babies’ development and comfort, through to the larger items that save their lives – our Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) can go above and beyond for patients and their families, thanks to you.
A new cooling machine
Dulwich Prep London supported King’s by holding their summer ball as a fundraising event. The school’s fantastic efforts have meant that the NICU has a new cooling machine for babies who have been deprived of oxygen during birth.
Little Eleanor was born at home on 1 March 2016. After a great labour, concerns were raised when Eleanor didn’t take her first breath properly, so she and her mum Mariah were blue-lighted to King’s.
Because of the complications related to her birth, Eleanor was put on the cooling machine and her temperature was brought down to 33 degrees for 72 hours. She spent 12 days in the NICU and is now doing well – her scan results have been good and Mariah says she is ‘a completely healthy, normal baby.’
Oxygen deprivation during birth can result in brain injury for the baby, with long-term consequences. The cooling of newborn babies within their first hours of life increases their chance of survival without brain damage and reduces the risk of disabilities such as cerebral palsy.
When King’s only had one machine, if a second baby needed cooling they had to be transferred elsewhere, which is far from ideal for the time-critical procedure and extremely upsetting for parents.
‘There’s a window of opportunity for cooling therapy,’ explains Kim Adler, Senior Sister on NICU. ‘If the baby has to be transferred then it delays the opportunity to start cooling. The sooner you start the treatment, the more beneficial it can be.’
‘An incredible outcome’
‘I’m so glad that King’s had the resources to save her life,’ says Mariah. ‘If we’d had to bounce around from 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. They told us when she was discharged that she was the sickest baby in Intensive Care when she was admitted, so it’s an incredible outcome that she’s so well.’
A new innovative incubator
The school’s donations also helped buy a new state-of-the-art ‘Giraffe’ incubator. Unlike other incubators, the top rises, meaning that 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.
‘For families seeing their baby in an incubator for the first time, it can feel like there’s a barrier between them,’ says Kim. ‘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.’
New developmental care equipment
Smaller items of large importance are also being used by the babies in NICU, thanks to donations. Developmental care products such as Zaky hands and bendy bumpers are important for helping premature babies who lack muscle strength. They are used to encourage proper development and provide comfort and security.
Security for Suzanne
Suzanne was born extremely prematurely at 23 weeks. During Suzanne’s time on the NICU, her mum Sibel has really seen the benefits of the Zaky hands, particularly when she’s not able to be by her daughter’s side.
‘I can sleep with it next to my skin overnight, then she can have it throughout the day and it’s got my scent on it,’ says Sibel. ‘It helps to keep her tucked in and she feels like I’m still there.’
A Zaky is a hand-shaped beanbag designed to simulate the shape, warmth, weight and touch of the parents’ hands and forearms. It not only mimics the presence of the parent, but it provides proper positioning to support development.
‘It’s still great even now that Suzanne’s older, because she loves it when I put my hand on her face or her head,’ says Sibel. ‘So when I’m not there I can put the Zaky near her face and it feels like my hand.’
Bendy bumpers can be moulded around the baby to help to contain them and simulate their natural position in the womb. Because premature babies have poor muscle tone, they are often floppier then full-term babies and they struggle to keep their bodies in alignment. The bendy bumpers help to do this whilst providing a vital source of comfort in the challenging early days and months of their lives.
‘It’s a very difficult journey for families in NICU,’ says Kim. ‘Anything that we can do to make that journey easier is incredible, and donations allow us to do that in many ways.’
From the bigger equipment that saves babies’ lives to the smaller items that make them strong and ready for their future – your help means the best care is provided to those who so desperately need it.
To ensure we can keep improving the service at King’s for tiny babies and their families, get involved and donate to King’s today.