A letter from Sam's mum...

My name is Zalena and I live in Audlem near Nantwich with my amazing family. I want to reach out to you as a supporter of Alder Hey to ask you to help keep families like mine by the side of their poorly babies during their neonatal care.

Our son Sam was born in May 2020 when I was only 24 weeks pregnant. He weighed just 790g and could fit in his dad’s hand. Sam required two major operations to save his life and multiple surgeries to save his sight at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital. As Sam was extremely premature, we spent the first four months of his life at Liverpool Women’s Hospital, living out of our bags and worried what each day might bring. Many times, my husband Martin and I were told that Sam may not make it through the night, and we had to be prepared for losing our first child.

To access the specialist care and surgery that Sam needed, he had to be transferred between hospitals six times. For a baby as tiny and fragile as Sam, this was an extremely worrying process. He had to be stabilised in a transport ventilator for an hour before each journey and then travel by critical care ambulance without us due to COVID restrictions at the time.

A Surgical Neonatal Unit (NICU), like the one being built at Alder Hey, would have meant we could have stayed together as a family, at the time that Sam needed us both. It would have allowed us to feel a slight sense of normality having our own living space in which to bond as a family in those early days, knowing that every expert was on hand.


Alder Hey Charity is raising vital funds to enhance the new unit and to buy the life-saving equipment needed. The unit’s bespoke rooms provide a home for relatives to stay to help care for the tiny new addition to their family. Family orientated care was one of the key things for us during our time at Alder Hey. All any parent wants to do when their child is born is to care for them. Having a critically ill child doesn’t change this need and we are so happy to have been encouraged and empowered by the Alder Hey team to be the main carers for Sam during our time there .A gift towards Alder Hey Charity’s Surgical Neonatal Appeal will help make this a reality for families like ours in the future. When every minute is fragile and precious, having space to be together as a family means the world. You can help make that happen.

Sam needed the experts at Alder Hey to perform long complex surgeries to save his life and his eyesight, and the intensive care available at Liverpool Women’s Hospital. The transfers between the hospitals were crucial but your support to build a NICU at Alder Hey will take away the worry and keep families together. Not all babies survive the transfers, and that risk will remain until we build this unit. It will be the first of its kind in the UK but it won’t be possible to achieve the ambitious plan without the support of people like you.

Thanks to the amazing NHS staff who have been with us throughout Sam’s journey, he is now a thriving two year old. He missed out on so much whilst in intensive care and after returning to our home in Nantwich during the pandemic, but now he adores music and sensory play. He loves attending Rhyme Time sessions and is such a happy, confident little dude!

Thank you for taking the time to read my letter. I hope you will consider making a donation today that has the power to keep families together through the toughest times. It sounds like a big statement, but it really could not be simpler.

Together, we can really make this happen.

With huge gratitude and love

Zalena, Martin, Sam and Sam’s new baby sister, Ava!



Surgical Neonatal Appeal

Explore 3D views of the new unit interiors!

Experience and explore a  Cot Room

Experience and explore a Parent Room

View the Touch Down nurses view and corridor area.