LIKE any new parents, Katie Norbury and Adam Smith are excited to spend their first Christmas with their newborn son Elliot.
They have bought a special story to read to him on Christmas Eve and have been telling him Santa will be coming to visit.
But their first Christmas together will take place in the neonatal intensive care unit of the Royal Oldham Hospital, after Elliot arrived 13 weeks early, weighing a tiny 389g – less than a tin of beans.
It was touch and go whether Elliot would make it, and at just a week old Katie and Adam said their final goodbyes to their son after he picked up an infection, and doctors thought he had just two hours to live.
But against the odds their little boy rallied, and he’s now making good progress.
Katie, 21, a care assistant, said: “It’s been a real rollercoaster, but Elliot is such a little fighter.
"This isn’t at all how we planned to spend our first Christmas as a family, but we have to stay strong for him.
“We are so thankful for the incredible doctors, nurses and healthcare staff who have helped us through this.”
The Sun’s Joy to the Ward Christmas Campaign is raising vital funds for NHS Charities Together, which supports more than 230 NHS charities around the UK.
We’re asking you, our generous army of readers, to help fund gifts and specialist services, equipment and more to help families like Elliot’s.
HOW TO GIVE
The Sun’s Joy To The Ward appeal is raising money for NHS Charities Together, the national, independent charity supporting more than 230 NHS charities across the UK.
Your donations will help support children and families going through the toughest times imaginable, providing specialist equipment and services along with toys, play- workers, parents’ accommodation and much more.
DONATE ONLINE: Scan the QR code above with your phone camera to go straight through to our donation page or visitnhscharitiestogether.givesafely.org/joy.
DONATE BY TEXT: Text JOY to 70607 to donate £10 to NHS Charities Together. You’ll be charged £10, plus one message at your standard network rate. NHS Charities Together will receive 100% of your donation.
DONATE BY POST: Use the coupon on the left.
- NHS Charities Together is the trading name of the Association of NHS Charities. Registered Charity No 1186569 (England & Wales) and SC050716 (Scotland). Company No 12325259
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Pregnancy scans showed a problem with Katie’s placenta, Elliot was delivered by emergency C-section on November 22nd, nearly four months ahead of his February 19th due date.
The tiny tot was brought straight to the neonatal intensive care unit, where he was doing well until his progress suddenly stalled.
Adam, 23, a support worker said: “We were told Elliot only had two hours left. We rang our parents and they rushed in to say goodbye too.
“It was the first time his grandparents had met Elliot as only Katie and I are allowed on the ward due to Covid rules.
It means so much to know that people are thinking of families like ours at Christmas, and they are donating to help wards like this
“But he’s such a fighter and he pulled through. It’s likely we’ll be here until at least his due date, but we take each day as it comes.
“It’s a difficult situation, but I wouldn’t change Elliot being here for the world.”
Previous donations from NHS Charities Together have been used to buy comfortable reclining chairs for parents on the neonatal ward, essential when spending all day and night at a sick baby’s bedside.
They’ve also provided sensory lights which help the babies’ development and they love to gaze at.
Katie, from Bury, Greater Manchester, said: “It means so much to know that people are thinking of families like ours at Christmas, and they are donating to help wards like this.
“The NHS does incredible work and we are so grateful for everything the staff here have done for us.”
In the ward’s special care nursery, Maggie Newton, 24, from Oldham is another new mum whose first Christmas with her son Lorenzo won’t be how she had planned.
Lorenzo arrived at 27 weeks on October 21st, weighing 892g, just under 2lbs.
Lorenzo’s arrival took everyone by surprise as his due date was January 16th, but he’s made excellent progress and they hope to make it home in time for Christmas.
Lorenzo’s fluffy red Christmas stocking hangs on the wall, and Maggie, a care assistant, smiles as she bundles him into it for an adorable picture.
“One of the nurses mentioned how cute he’d look in a Christmas stocking, and when I saw this one with his initial on I couldn’t resist,” she said.
“Without the amazing care of the doctors and nurses there’s no way Lorenzo would have made such progress.
“A lot of the parents are here all day at their baby’s side, and having little things like a present on Christmas day means the world.”
Next to Maggie and Lorenzo are twins Billy and Poppy, with their mum Georgie Smith, 33, and dad Jack Bradbury, 31.
The twins were born six weeks early after scans showed there was a problem with the fluid surrounding Billy in the womb.
He weighed 3lb 1oz, while sister Poppy weighed 4lb 14oz.
Cradling both her babies Georgie, who works in recruitment, said: “I don’t really have words to say how amazing the staff here have been, they are simply incredible.
"The babies weren’t due until January 4th, although we knew they would come earlier than that.
“Our house is full of Christmas presents and cards for them, but returning there each night without them doesn’t feel real.”
Jack, a project manager, added: “They are both doing really well and we’re hoping that we’ll be able to take them home for Christmas.
“I would like to say thank you to everyone who has donated to the campaign so far, it really does mean so much to families like us to know people are thinking about us and donating to help parents and babies on wards like this one around the country.”
The neonatal intensive care ward at the Royal Oldham can admit up to 37 babies at a time; nine in intensive care, nine in high dependency and 19 in the special care nursery.
NorthCare Charity, which supports hospitals and community services in Oldham, Salford, Bury and Rochdale, including the Royal Oldham’s neonatal ward, is one of hundreds of NHS charities which receive funds from NHS Charities Together.
Fundraising manager Stephen Owen said: "On behalf of everyone at NorthCare Charity, I would like to say a big thank you to all those who have donated, your money goes a long way to support patients and staff not only on this ward but across the rest of the hospital and out into the community.
"We appreciate it has been a difficult time for everyone and any amount donated is hugely appreciated.
"We need your support now more than ever to show our patients that people do care this Christmas and it will help brighten their time whilst under our care at Christmas."
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