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Celebrating 10 years of the Dyson Centre for Neonatal Care

In July 2011, Royal United Hospitals opened the Dyson Centre for Neonatal Care.  A Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) designed to provide a beneficial healing environment, reducing stress levels experienced by the babies and their parents.  Since opening, the award winning centre has cared for around 500 babies and families a year and the hospital is celebrating 10 years of supporting families like Taya’s.

“We will forever be grateful to all the NICU staff at the RUH.  If it wasn’t for these superheroes, our boys and I simply wouldn’t be here today.”

Mum of twin boys, Taya, was born at the hospital’s original NICU 32 years ago. Taya was the second smallest baby on the Unit at the time, weighing just 1 pound 9 ounces and born prematurely at six months. Thanks to the care of RUH staff in 1989, Taya has been able to start her own family and her twin boys Harvey and Charlie were born earlier this year.

Recalling their NICU journey, Taya said: “Our pregnancy was going well until a scan at 29 weeks picked up on an abnormality; late twin-to-twin transfusion. This meant there was a growth difference between our boys and Charlie’s placenta was growing weaker. Over the next few days, I developed early signs of pre-eclampsia and so we were quickly transferred to the labour ward and then the delivery suite.

Harvey and Charlie were born at 29+5 weeks on Tuesday 12th January 2021 at St Michael’s Hospital in Bristol, weighing only 3 and 2.5 pounds. We were soon transferred to NICU at the RUH where they had 24/7 care from the incredible team and specialised treatment for their breathing problems.

Being a NICU parent is a unique experience full of highs and lows – we were fortunate to spend 10 weeks watching our boys’ progress each day as they grew in strength, we were the lucky ones, because sadly this isn’t always the case for every baby in NICU.

The main thing that helped us get through it was all the care and support we received.  Not just from the amazing NICU staff and counsellors, but also the special bonds that we made with other parents. This was especially important during Covid. Having people we could relate to was so valuable and helped make this difficult journey a bit easier, as well as was a huge distraction from everything that was happening in the world.”

Even though the NICU team were healthcare staff, they became like family to Taya and Joel. The family’s first Mother’s Day was on the Unit – where the nurses even surprised them and all the other mothers with cards from Harvey and Charlie and the rest of the children in NICU.

They were also involved in their children’s care from the very beginning, with support from kangaroo care, to begin feeding and learn baby-safe CPR. The Dyson Centre for Neonatal Care benefits from parent accommodation, allowing parents like Taya to live on the Unit to aid this transition and reassure that their children are in safe hands.

Reflecting on their time in NICU, Taya said, “Covid put an extra pressure on all new parents, but we always knew we were in the best place possible. The care provided in the Dyson Centre for Neonatal Care is unique – it’s really very special. It was a rollercoaster of emotions and we owe so much to the team for looking after our whole family so well and for sending us safel