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Toby’s Story –NICU baby turned grown up runner!

Toby arrived into the world at 28 weeks in 2007 after an emergency c-section in the Princess Anne Wing at the Royal United Hospital. Having been born twelve weeks early, Toby was very poorly and his lungs were not as strong as they should have been, making his first few months in the world a real fight. He spent the first three months on a ventilator in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), then progressing to a CPAP before the medical team finally declared him strong enough to come home.

Doctors warned that Toby may have long standing problems with his lungs due to the complications he faced those very first months. Despite all the odds, Toby, now 8 years old has never been back to Hospital for any major health problems apart from a hernia operation when he was seven months old. He’s as active as every eight year old should be and can certainly chase around a football! This year, Toby decided he wanted to give back to the unit (now the Dyson Centre for Neonatal Care) that cared for him by taking part in the Vitality Bath Half’s Family Fun Run back in March. He set out to raise £25 as his way of saying thank you and proving just how far he’s come…and ended up raising an amazing £230 which will help care for babies just like him!

Toby says: I was born 12 weeks early and was really poorly.  The NICU in Bath saved my life and I would not be here if it was not for the Doctors and Nurses who looked after me and helped me get better.  I wanted to fundraise to say thank you for looking after me so well.

During Toby’s stay on NICU, The Forever Friends Appeal launched their ‘Space to Grow’ fundraising campaign which raised £3.1 million towards the build of a brand new Unit, in a 50/50 funding partnership with the NHS. At the RUH one in ten babies are born too early, too sick or too soon and therefore need additional care, like Toby, who featured in the campaign launch video sleeping in his incubator. 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. The aim of the campaign was to replace the existing small, cramped facilities with a pioneering new building that complimented the complex and intensive high quality care being delivered to the hundreds premature and sick babies who depended on it every year, giving them the best possible start in life.

The campaign was hugely successful and the doors to what is now known as the Dyson Centre for Neonatal Care, opened in July 2011 and provides care to around three hundred babies, much like Toby, every year. The Centre has brought Bath and its surrounding areas the first environmentally sustainable building of its kind in Europe that has exceeded all expectations, won several awards including the Breeam ‘Excellent’ and created a dramatically different environment for care with its holistic and therapeutic approach to design. The light, airy and calm surroundings have had a huge impact on babies, parents and staff and the clockwise circuit of care rooms, decreasing in intensity of care, around the staff base at the heart of the unit allows parents to see and understand the progression of care their babies take. Stress levels have also been reduced, the babies appear less agitated and parents are able to spend more time with them in this spacious, healing environment; allowing for the proper use of nurturing ‘developmental care’ techniques.

Whilst the campaign to build this amazing new Centre has been completed, charitable donations are still very much welcome and continue provide state-of-the-art treatment and diagnostic equipment (above and beyond what the NHS can provide) that help staff deliver the best possible care to these fragile young lives.

Unfortunately Toby was struck down with the dreaded flu-like illness the week before the Vitality Bath Half Family Fun Run and was unable to take part in the race. Although Toby was pretty devastated about this, his brilliant brother was on hand to run on his behalf! After a speedy recover Toby has been out running, proudly in his Ted’s Team vest, with mum Ruth to make up for it ever since.

Sarah Goodwin, Practice Development Sister for the Dyson Centre for Neonatal Care says: “Everyone at NICU would like to say a big Thank You to Toby for taking the time to raise £230 for the Unit – we are so grateful! We were sorry to hear that Toby became unwell and was unable to complete the Fun Run but we are glad that he is still enjoying his running. Thanks to Toby, we will be able to buy some equipment to help other babies and families during their time on NICU.”

If you would like to support the Dyson Centre for Neonatal Care (NICU) just like Toby, or find out more about this unit please visit:  www.foreverfriendsappeal.co.uk/nicu

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