2 February 2022

Celebrating her first birthday by thanking the NHS

After a difficult labour on 2 February 2021, Ellie Jayne Collins was born and treated for Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy in Southampton’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. Mum, Carly, explains:

“We are so grateful to be celebrating Ellie’s first birthday. It brings back a mix of emotions after the rocky start Ellie had but also reminds us of the amazing staff in the neonatal unit that saved her life and gave her the best possible start.

This was my second pregnancy, and it was categorised as a low-risk pregnancy following midwife and hospital checks.

We live in Southampton, so when contractions started, we made our way to Broadlands Birth Centre at Princess Anne Hospital.

“The same as her older brother, baby Ellie was born six days past my due date, and after a two-hour labour, she was born weighing 7.4lb.

That was where the similarities ended. When born, Ellie was not breathing and was diagnosed with moderate Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy.”

Hypoxic-ischaemic encephalopathy (HIE) is a type of brain injury caused by a lack of oxygen and/or blood getting to a baby from the placenta during the birthing process. This affects around 1 in 1,000 babies.

“Ellie was immediately taken to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and given hypothermia therapy.

This is a cooling treatment that reduced Ellie’s body temperature as this form of treatment has been shown to reduce brain injuries and has improved outcomes for many babies.

We were told that the first 24 hours were crucial.

It was such a difficult time as England had just entered the third lockdown, so my husband, Mike, and I were only allowed to go and see her one at a time on the unit, and we had to wear masks.

Our first cuddle wasn’t until she was a week old.

The staff on the unit were lovely, and they got you involved with nappy changes, bath time, and feeding her, which was tricky when there were so many wires and machines attached to Ellie.

It’s a lot to take in and something you can never prepare for, but they have a great team in the neonatal unit who give you so much support and constant updates.

They try their hardest to make everything as normal as it should be when you have just had a baby, despite the additional medical care needed.

Unfortunately, the diagnosis and after-effects of HIE is difficult as so much is still unknown. We were told that there was no way of knowing how well she would recover and that it was a case of waiting to see as she grows up.

But to see her today, after watching her grow and develop over this past year, she has continuously brought a smile to our faces!

Ellie fought through those first two weeks in the neonatal unit, and we were so excited when we could finally take her home with us.

She has exceeded our expectations, with no signs of the traumatic start in life she had. Ellie is such a perfect, happy, bright-eyed, and smiley baby, absolutely adored by her older brother and our family and friends.

She does not need or want anything for her birthday, so we decided to mark the occasion by giving back to the neonatal unit through Southampton Hospitals Charity.

We simply cannot thank Doctor Sharma and the staff in the neonatal unit for their quick thinking, treatment, positive updates, and for looking after our baby girl so well during her first two weeks of life!

We are so proud that this money will support Southampton in the amazing work they do, and that it will help other babies like Ellie.”

Join us in wishing Ellie a happy birthday!

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