Norwich Cots for Tots appeal for NICU

A £500,000 appeal is being launched to expand one of the region’s busiest Neonatal Intensive Care Units for premature and critically ill babies.

The Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital’s Cots for Tots appeal aims to raise £500,000 to fund the building work and equip four new cots for babies needing high dependency or intensive care.

The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital is a highly specialist unit looking after the needs of premature and critically ill babies.

The NICU is one of only three specialist neonatal units in the East of England. The other specialist neonatal units are in Luton and Cambridge.

The Norwich unit is one of the busiest in the region and its staff look after more than 850 babies a year. The NICU currently has a total of 28 cots. Demand for specialist care for premature or critically ill babies is rising and the numbers of babies from Norfolk and neighbouring counties using the Norwich NICU is going up.

The Norwich Cots for Tots Appeal is being backed by Lucy and Simon Baker, from Norwich. Their son Jack was born just over a year ago and needed NICU care.

Jack Baker was born on September 5 2009 and cared for in NICU for 12 days. Jack’s mum and dad, Lucy and Simon, recall the anxiety they had after Jack was deprived of oxygen at birth as a result of a problem with the placenta.

“When Jack was about eight hours old, Dr Roy, the consultant neonatologist in charge of Jack’s care, sat down to talk to us. He explained what had happened and that Jack had been deprived of oxygen at birth. After the excitement of expecting our first baby, the future suddenly seemed rather bleak. Dr Roy explained that Jack was very poorly: he might experience fits and seizures; his liver wasn’t functioning properly, nor were his kidneys.

Dr Roy suggested a pioneering programme called TOBY might help Jack. Normally it had to be started within 7 hours of birth, but as long as we were willing to agree to try it, Jack would be put on it straight away.

This treatment involved cooling Jack’s body temperature slowly by 3 or 4 degrees, thereby reducing any damage to the brain following his oxygen deprivation at birth. Of course we agreed and Jack was put onto the TOBY cooling mat.

During the next 72 hours, although we had a very poorly baby to think about, we were so impressed with and grateful to the whole NICU team. They did a wonderful job of looking after Jack, were very reassuring to us, and kept us informed of what was happening.

After 72 hours, he was taken off the mat, and his body temperature slowly raised to normal. His recovery in the NICU was amazing thanks to the care and dedication of the staff, and during the 12 days we were there, we always felt welcomed. When I was discharged from the maternity ward, the NICU were very accommodating, and let us have a family room on the unit, where we were able to spend lots of time with Jack as he got better.

Today Jack is a happy, healthy and active toddler. He has just celebrated his first birthday and is hitting all his developmental milestones. Had it not been for the treatment he received at the NICU last year, it would have been a very different story. We cannot thank the staff enough for their care and know just how lucky we were to have had access to such a wonderful unit in Norwich“.

Consultant neonatologist Dr Mark Dyke said: “All mums and dads start a pregnancy hoping and expecting to have a healthy baby. When problems arise, through premature birth or serious illness a baby may need our help. As our knowledge and equipment gets better, we are able to do more and more each year for such critically ill babies and, for most, there is still a happy ending. We hate to turn away a baby who needs our help as we know that they may have to travel a long way to receive the care they need so we urgently need to create more spaces to be able to offer the best care to even more babies each year from our region.”

NICU nurse manager Amanda Williamson said: “We are keenly aware how difficult it can be for families who sometimes have to travel long distances to enable their baby to receive care because all our high dependency and intensive care cots are in use. The expansion of cots will mean that more families are able to stay locally while their baby receives the care they need. We are very excited about allowing this improvement to care that families receive.”

The aim is to raise £500,000 to fund the building work and equip the four new cots. The hospital aim’s to get the four new cots up and running by autumn 2011. To support the Norwich Cots for Tots appeal you can donate:

1. Online at

2. Send a cheque payable to the NNUH NHS Foundation Trust with “NICU Cot Expansion Fund F300” written on the back of the cheque and send to Communications, Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, Colney Lane, Norwich, NR4 7UY.

Friday 19th of November 2010 12:00:18 PM