Ex-patients and families go the extra mile for Wandsworth neonatal unit

Families of the St George’s neonatal unit in Wandsworth are going above and beyond to support the ward which saved their children.

Noah was born in February 2019 weighing just 2kg and spent 11 days in hospital, needing a ventilator.

Mother Kirsty Slater, 28, felt completely unprepared for the trauma of premature birth, which affects as many as one in ten pregnancies.

However, the extraordinary care they received enabled Noah to make a full recovery.

“It was terrifying, just wires and everything, but the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) nurses were right behind me,” said Kirsty.

BEST FOOT FORWARD: At just two years old, Noah is walking for the unit that enabled him to do so. Credit: Paige Carter

Now a happy and healthy two-year-old, Noah and his mum felt the time was right to help fundraise for the unit which helped him.

Kirsty said: “It’s his story, he’s the one that went through it, so we will walk as much as his little legs will take us.”

The pair hope their efforts will raise awareness and better prepare other expectant mothers, whilst proving that prematurity can have a happy ending.

“He’s one of the lucky ones,” she said.

Conor and Laura Leahy’s son Logan was born in March 2020, weighing 600g. He sadly passed away a week later.

They were so struck by the staff’s compassion that last summer Conor and his friends cycled 70 miles from London to Camber Sands, where they had planned to take Logan on his first holiday.

“The real superheroes are the staff on that neonatal unit,” said Conor, who joked that he never once saw them yawn.

“I find it hard to put into words just how incredible they are,” he added, highlighting the deep trust staff build with the babies and their families.

“They are like a third parent.”

Their daughter Hope was born on 8 March and is currently a patient. However, befitting her name, she is progressing well.

A NEW HOPE: Conor and Laura with their daughter Hope in the neonatal unit Photo Credit: Conor Leahy

This year, Conor and his team will take on the Three Peaks Challenge to raise funds and draw further awareness towards premature births.

Neonatal consultant Dr Donovan Duffy attests to the invaluable nature of these efforts.

“The most rewarding part is seeing the families once they leave the unit, how they are thriving,” he said.

First Touch, the unit’s associated charity, was founded as so many families wanted to give back.

The sheer quantity of support is testament to the unit, with many of their patients going on to live full lives.

“Just because they’re premature doesn’t mean anything – they just see the world as their oyster,” said Kirsty.

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