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Mum on the run for Bath’s Special Baby Unit

A mother whose son was born prematurely has vowed to run 13.1 miles in aid of the Hospital that helped saved his life. Megan Orrell, 32, from Hilperton, had a complicated second pregnancy that would rival any expectant mother’s biggest fears and her son’s first few weeks were something of a rollercoaster ride. Baby Oscar was born weighing just 3lb 3oz and spent the first seven weeks of his life on the Dyson Centre for Neonatal Care (NICU) at the Royal United Hospital in Bath. Thanks to the wonderful care and treatment he received on the specialist baby unit, Oscar is now a bright and bubbly 16 month old.

Megan will be lacing up her trainers this winter in preparation to run the Vitality Bath Half Marathon on Sunday 13th March 2016. She will be joining The Forever Friends Appeal’s running team to help raise funds for NICU as a thank you to all those who looked after her son Oscar when he needed it most.

Here’s Oscar’s story, as told by Megan: “I had experienced complications in my second pregnancy right from the start and at 6 weeks I was told during an early scan that I had a sub chorionic hematoma (blood clot on the placenta) and that this would increase my risk of miscarriage and premature birth… pretty frightening. At 27 weeks my waters broke and I was given steroids to mature my baby’s lungs and antibiotics to lower the risk of infection.

Just under 3 weeks later I went into labour and little Oscar was born on 24th July 2014 at the RUH at 30 weeks exactly, weighing a tiny 3lb 3oz. He was whisked straight off to NICU where he would spend the first 7 weeks of his life.

Like a lot of premature babies, his journey through NICU was a bit of a roller coaster. He didn’t need much breathing support to start with and was a good weight for his gestation, however at 2 days old doctors were concerned about some blood in his stool and he was transferred to St Michael’s in Bristol with a suspected twist in his bowel. Luckily it turned out he had just swallowed some blood during the delivery and 6 days later he was back in Bath’s NICU.

Just when we thought he was on the mend he got an infection and needed antibiotics and oxygen. It felt like he would never be strong enough or well enough to go home. However after the infection began to clear up, he thankfully turned a corner and started to breastfeed and became less reliant on the oxygen. We finally got to take our beautiful boy home at 37 weeks weighing 5lb1oz.”

During Oscar’s stay Megan and her partner received amazing support and care from the team of nurses, doctors and support staff – who always explained everything that was happening and what it all meant as clearly as possible and even helped lift the family’s spirits by celebrating little milestones, such as being moved from high dependency to special care. When Oscar finally went home two of the outreach nurses continued to visit on a regular basis to check his progress for the first 6 months.

Megan continues: “Today Oscar is 16 months (13.5 corrected) and is doing really well. He has caught up with his growth and is on track with his development, crawling and pulling himself up to standing and babbling away, in fact you wouldn’t be able to tell he was premature and I put that down to the excellent care he had whilst at the RUH.

So I am running the Bath Half as a way of saying thank you to the incredible staff who looked after Oscar and to raise money for the Unit, so that they can continue to provide excellent care for future premature and sick babies in the area. I am also doing it as a bit of a personal challenge, as an opportunity to get fit again… before I had my wonderful daughter Ruby, who’s now 4 and Oscar,  I was a keen runner and can’t wait to get stuck back into it!

I have run the Bath Half in the past and loved the support that you get from the crowd and the general atmosphere from the fun two-lap course. It’ll be a challenge but nothing like the journey Oscar had as a baby. It’s going to be an amazing race and I’m so thankful to be able to give something back for the care, support and future given to Oscar.”

At the Royal United Hospital in Bath one in ten babies are born too early, too sick or too soon and therefore need additional care like Oscar. The Dyson Centre for Neonatal Care (NICU) provides this type of care to around three hundred babies every year. These babies, who can fit in the palm of your hand or are too sick to survive on their own, need everything that modern technology can offer. This very Centre was 50% funded by The Forever Friends Appeal, the main charitable arm of the Royal United Hospital, from charitable support as part of the NICU ‘space to grow’ Campaign and provides these premature babies with the best possible start in life. Charitable donations and support from people like Megan Orrell, continue provide state-of-the-art treatment and diagnostic equipment for this Unit and its never-ending needs, that help staff deliver the best possible care to these fragile young lives.

To sponsor Megan and support premature babies at the RUH like Oscar, please visit her online fundraising page: www.justgiving.com/Megan-Orrell

Although general entries for the 2016 Vitality Bath Half are almost sold out, The Forever Friends Appeal still has a number of Silver Bond places! If you would like to join the team, which is proudly sponsored by local business Velopost, please visit our Bath Half page or give the Events Team a call 01225 821535. Places cost £35 and you can choose to raise funds for a ward or department that is close to your heart like NICU, or the RUH Cancer Care Campaign which is raising £8.5 million towards the build of a state of the art Cancer Centre at the Hospital. If you already have a place in the race but would still like to be part of one of the biggest teams in Bath, please get in touch – the Appeal would love to hear from you!

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