‘Purple city’ for pre-term babes

Sheffield Teaching Hospitals, The Jessop Wing.
Sheffield Teaching Hospitals, The Jessop Wing.

Babies who are born too early will be remembered on this month’s World Prematurity Day, and parts of Sheffield will go purple to urge people to take notice.

Jody Wigfull-Coy will be among a small team of people running events in the city centre on November 17.

Key among these will be an event in the Winter Garden from 4pm to 6pm with life-sized characters and a photo booth alongside a host of information stalls about pre-term babies.

For first-time parents Jody and husband Ben, of Sheffield, it was an intense shock to find themselves in hospital, after Jody attended a routine 20-week scan.

Her cervix was opening and surgery became necessary and was successful. But later her waters broke. At just 23 weeks and six days, tiny 1lb3oz Beau was born in Jessops.

“She put up a tremendous fight for life but one of her lungs collapsed – the lungs develop at 24 weeks,” said Jody.

“We had Beau from August 18 to September 1. Before my scan all had seemed normal then we were catapulted into this situation of being hospitalised.

“Staff at Jessops were wonderful. But then there’s the time when you leave hospital, in our case without our baby, and it was hard to find the right kind of support to help us through.”

She said: “Beau was our little miracle. Miscarriage and stillbirth is common, but I think people forget sometimes babies do not survive.

“We want to raise awareness of all premature births and to celebrate the lives of babies born too soon, small and sick.”

Babies born at 20 weeks or earlier have no chance of survival, Jody and Ben were told, but at 24 weeks the chance of a premature baby living moves up drastically to 40 per cent.

A staff nurse from Jessops neo-natal ward, Julie Bathie, is joining Jody and leading events on November 17, when iconic buildings will glow purple, with information nearby to tell people why they are bathed in colour.

“The neo-natal ward is always busy,” added Jody. “One in four babies are born prematurely and thankfully many do survive. But it’s the hardest thing to lose a child.

“We were plunged in to something we had never imagined and we hadn’t been aware of the pitfalls previously. That’s why we feel it is important for others to know what can happen during pregnancy.

“We were very well cared for in hospital and everyone gives the best care possible. The bereavement service too helped us during our time there. But later on when you leave hospital I feel there is a gap in the service, for parents who may need to receive more help in the form of counselling.”