Mum-to-be Jamie was staying a friend’s house in Brighton when her waters broke three months early. Confused and worried, Jamie rushed to the Royal Sussex County Hospital where she was closely monitored. She was in complete shock when the doctors confirmed that her baby was on its way and would be born premature. Would the baby be born healthy? What would the future hold for them both? How would she cope living 350 miles from her home in South Shields with a new born?
Only four days later Jamie went in to labour and gave birth to a baby boy at only 25 weeks gestation. Prince was born on 29th September weighing only 1lbs 12oz. He was immediately placed in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) and closely monitored. He needed help with feeding and breathing due to a large duct in his heart.
As a first time mum Jamie was overwhelmed. Her baby had arrived over three months early 350 miles away from home. Although well prepared for his arrival back in South Shields, Jamie and Prince faced at least a three month stay at the Royal Sussex County Hospital.
Each day that she learnt more about Prince’s condition, the further her friends and family felt. Phone calls home kept Jamie strong throughout the first month of Prince’s life but the longer their stay prolonged, the harder it got for Jamie.
Jamie knew that Prince wouldn’t be able to travel the 350 mile journey home by road ambulance any time soon. Although progressing well he was still very fragile. There was also a shortage of bed space in Neonatal Units within the North East region which meant that there was no room for Prince at any hospitals near their home in South Shields. The uncertainty of how and when they would be able to get home was seriously affecting Jamie’s mental health.
However, Prince’s medical team at the Royal Sussex County Hospital contacted Lucy Air Ambulance for Children (Lucy AAC) about the possibility of transferring him by plane. Lucy AAC confirmed that they would be able to transfer Prince to an NICU in the North East once there was free bed space. Less than a week later, a bed was secured for Prince at Sunderland Royal Hospital and Lucy AAC were finally able to transfer Prince to a hospital less than 10 miles from their home.
Jamie was thrilled when she heard the news! She would finally be able to introduce her newborn baby to her friends and family and most importantly, have her support system surrounding her again.
The morning of the transfer Jamie met with the Lucy AAC team who answered questions about the flight and introduced the charity. Lucy AAC transferred Prince and Jamie, from the Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton to Sunderland Royal Hospital by plane.
They settled in at the new hospital and had lots of visitors eager to meet Prince. He progressed well in the weeks following his transfer and became more independent with his breathing and feeding. This resulted in him moving from the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) in Sunderland Royal Hospital to the Special Care Baby Unit (SCBU) at South Tyneside Hospital – even closer to the family’s home. Jamie was thrilled, she says: “It was the best Christmas present in the world to have Prince a little bit closer to coming home.”
At South Tyneside Hospital Prince kept hitting lots of big milestones and in early January, after three months of specialist care, Prince ‘graduated’ from the SCBU. Jamie was so proud of everything that Prince had achieved, that she had a graduation ceremony in the SCBU for him before he went home for good. She is over the moon to finally have Prince home with her.