My name is Jo. I’m a Paediatric and Neonatal Surgeon at Alder Hey. I started working at here in 2010 and 12 years later I still love my job! One of the most important things about our work at Alder Hey is that we continue to find new ways of improving the lives of our brave young patients. I care deeply about my young patients and like you, I want the very best outcomes for them. And this year my Christmas wish is for the tiny preterm babies undergoing surgery at Alder Hey to have the best chances of a bright future.
Matthew was born extremely prematurely when his mum Natalie was only 23 weeks pregnant. Natalie and her husband Adrian were already grieving the loss of Matthew’s twin brother, James, who passed away just days before.
The earlier a baby is born, the higher the risk of health complications and the need for round the clock specialist care is often required. Matthew required this type of round the clock care. Matthew had a hernia operation and then spent weeks on a ventilator as he battled chronic lung disease. He also underwent surgery for Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP), a rare disease that affects the eyes of some very small premature babies. At two years old Matthew was also diagnosed with global developmental delay.
Matthew is now eight and has severe visual impairment. He attends the Royal School for the Blind, which he loves, where he is encouraged to learn and make progress in all aspects of his growth. And according to his dad Adrian, he is an incredible pianist!
At Alder Hey we are building the most unique family-focused Surgical Neonatal Intensive Care Unit in the UK, a unit that puts our tiny babies and their families at the core of our care. The new unit will allow us to focus on the development of preterm babies like Matthew, that should still be inside the womb, meaning that after surgery we will be able to make changes to our tiny babies’ immediate surroundings to reduce stress and encourage their development.
We know that by handling a baby less, keeping them at the correct temperature and protecting their skin by keeping it hydrated we can help support a baby to grow. A Giraffe incubator helps us to mimic the environment of the womb. This special cot in our new rooms reduces unnecessary touching, allowing nurses to carry out procedures such as weighing and even take X-rays without moving the baby.
Through advanced technology the opened incubator even maintains a cocoon of warmth protecting these tiny babies from temperature changes. Preterm babies find the noises and lights of their new world incredibly startling, the Giraffe cot uses noise free alarms, low noise fans and a noise damping hood to protect them from stress.
I hope you are able to support our campaign this Christmas, just click on the link below to start.
Jo Minford, Paediatric and Neonatal Surgeon