8 July 2022
Andrew Morgan works in finance and lives in Winchester with his wife Anna, and two children, Millie, 10, and Oliver, 8. Read on to find out why Andrew is running the London Marathon this year in support of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit in Southampton.
In 2012, my wife and I found out she was pregnant. It was an uneventful pregnancy, and we progressed to full term.
As we lay in bed having enjoyed the London Olympics opening ceremony, Anna started to bleed heavily, and we rushed to Winchester Hospital where she was taken straight into theatre and underwent a crash c-section.
Anna had suffered a placental abruption. This is where the placenta starts coming away prematurely before the baby is born causing severe blood loss for both the mother and baby. It meant that the baby wasn’t getting any oxygen, and was bleeding out through the ruptured placenta.
At that time, I was in a waiting room on my own, not knowing what was happening. It was terrible. Anna and what I hoped would be my new baby were my entire life and, at that point, I didn’t know if either were going to survive.
After a long time, a nurse came in and filled me in on what had happened. Our baby had been rushed to the neonatal intensive care unit to begin cooling treatment to try and limit brain injury, while the surgeons helped Anna.
The nurse encouraged me to give our baby a name there and then, I thought this was so that if she died then, she died with a name. I chose Millie.
The first time I saw Millie, she was wearing a cooling jacket in an incubator. I held her tiny little hand, and it felt cold, and she was greyish-white, having lost so much blood.
We didn’t know if our baby would survive, or if there would be any long-term complications, but somehow at that moment in time, she was still alive.
She was transferred to Portsmouth Hospital the next morning to continue the specialist treatment, and the intention was that Anna remained in Winchester to recover.
Soon after the ambulance had left with Millie, we were told we had to get to Portsmouth as quickly as possible. We feared the worst, not for the last time.
Anna was blue-lighted to Portsmouth and Anna’s parents drove me. When we arrived, Millie was being linked up to an array of machines – wires, tubes, monitors, ventilator and more, all keeping her alive.
After a day or two, things started to look stable and relatively hopeful, and the cooling treatment was slowly being withdrawn. They were even talking about transferring us back to Winchester.
Then Millie started to vomit dark green bile, and her abdomen started inflating.
An X-ray showed a perforated bowel. Around the time of birth, Millie’s body had shut down the blood supply to this area to maximise blood available for the brain so a section of Millie’s gut had died and subsequently perforated.
Another life-saving operation to remove some of her intestine was needed, but this could only be performed at the neonatal intensive care unit in Southampton due to the expertise and facilities needed.
The neonatal unit provided us with a room where we could spend a bit of time away from the unit, using it as a base, while still being close enough in case of emergency.
When we weren’t with Millie, we were in our room watching the Olympics to take our minds off things. The rowing and cycling were particular favourites, and Super Saturday was great tonic for us!
After a few days, things started going in the right direction and, although we didn’t know it or believe it after all the knockbacks Millie and ourselves had had, they were to keep going the right direction.
We were transferred back to Winchester Hospital when Millie was 10 days old to help us cope with everything that had happened, and to show us how to care for Millie.
There were so many things that we hadn’t been able to do with Millie being in the intensive care unit with all the machinery post-surgery, so that time was invaluable to us.
Today, miraculously the only sign of Millie’s horrific start in life is a scar across her tummy from her surgery. We still shake our heads in happy disbelief, and we are so thankful to the many amazing NHS staff who were involved in saving both Millie and Anna’s lives.
Running the London Marathon
It is now ten years on from when Millie was born. We’ve always said that we would raise money for Southampton Hospitals Charity as a direct thank you for the care we received in the neonatal unit.
Whilst care and treatment are what the NHS is here for, there is so much extra that we are grateful for, like the on-site accommodation which meant that we could be there for Millie when she needed us the most.
I’m raising funds to help Southampton provide these ‘extras’ which don’t come from NHS funding. They made a big difference to us.
I ran the London Marathon a few years ago and then put myself in the ballot to run again. To my astonishment, I got a ballot place (they’re really rare!), which has been pushed out a few times due to the pandemic, but I am excited to run the course again this year.
I’ve started to charge up my training with different and longer distances so I am ready for the London Marathon this October. I’ve reached 16 miles so far with three months to go until the race, so I’m in decent shape but with some hard yards to go!