Today is Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) Giving Day, which is a great opportunity to remind everyone why helping neonatal charities is so important – and the impact their work has on poorly babies and their families.
Neonatal units in hospitals up and down the country – and indeed the world – help give sick and premature babies the best possible chance to survive and thrive.
Many neonatal units in hospitals in the UK have their own charity dedicated to raising funds.
In the US, NICU care costs an average of $3000 a day (I gulped when I saw that figure too), which reinforced just how lucky we are to have the NHS. I cannot imagine the extra pressure of worrying of how we were going to pay for my son’s care (with or without medical insurance) at the same time as helping him fight for his life.
However, providing treatment free at the point of care in the UK means that NHS funds can only provide so much. Neonatal charities and their supporters often fundraise to help bridge the funding gap for new equipment, as well as things to make the experience a bit easier for their parents.
I am proud to be an ambassador for First Touch, the charity for sick and premature babies at St George’s Hospital, where my son Hugo was cared for. Funds raised by and on behalf of First Touch helps buy state-of-the-art equipment that is outside the scope of NHS resources, resulting in improved management of and quality of care for poorly and premature babies. This helps so many parents be able to take their precious babies home.
First Touch also helps look after the families, by part-funding a Family-Centred Care Coordinator, and helping make the parents’ room comfortable. Parenting in a neonatal unit is exhausting and indescribably stressful, meaning little touches like free tea and coffee in the parents’ room are greatly appreciated. The magazines were a thoughtful touch too, even if all I was capable of doing at the time was looking at the pictures – but even that was appreciated to give my mind a rest for five valuable minutes.
Sadly, my son Hugo did not make it home. Despite everything being done to help Hugo he was just too small, and premature (he was born at 24 weeks).
The charity assists bereaved parents, too, by supporting the annual remembrance service, bereavement training and literature.
If you are looking for a charity to run, walk, bake cakes or throw yourself out a plane for, a neonatal charity is a very worthwhile cause to raise money for. Not only will you be helping sick and premature babies, you will be helping their parents through the most challenging time.
Being biased, I think every penny raised should be donated towards First Touch. They, and the neonatal unit will forever have a special place in my heart because of my Hugo.
People are likely to want to support charities that are close to where they live too, so do give your local hospital a call or have a look on their website to see how you can help their tiniest patients.
Please also do consider Bliss, a national charity that provides vital support such as information about caring for a sick and premature baby; a helpline; and family centred care support.
Thank you – these tiny babies and their parents are forever grateful for your generous support.