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Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Milbourne’s Miracle Baby is Thriving

A chance decision to spend a night at the in-laws in Whalton probably saved the lives of Zoë Bell and her unborn daughter Lucy.Zoë, 22, was living at the time with husband Stephen and their baby son Jack in remote Allendale. Stephen, 27, woke to find her lying in bed at his parents’ home in a pool of blood. An ambulance was called and rushed Zoë to Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary, where Lucy was born 14 weeks premature on September 9, 2005. Her due date was Christmas Eve.Lucy weighed just 900g, or 2lb. The picture here shows just how tiny she was. Stephen, a civil engineer, said: “Lucy was about the size of a knife or fork, or a toastie bag – my wedding ring could fit around her shoulder.” She was transferred straight to the special baby care unit, put on a ventilator, and at ten days old was taken to the Freeman Hospital for a heart operation to close up a duct.The couple had been aware there may be problems with the pregnancy, having been told there appeared to be insufficient fluid around the baby in the womb. Doctors thought she may not go full term, but no one was expecting this Christmas present to come quite so early.Zoë said: “Had we been in Allendale that night, neither of us would be here today. And having been diagnosed with bleeding on the brain and lung disease at birth, we were worried Lucy would not survive. We are so, so lucky.”Lucy was kept at the RVI until early November, when she was transferred to Hexham General Hospital, but after just two days she had stopped breathing and had to be rushed back to the special baby care unit in Newcastle.She fortunately made a full recovery and was allowed home for Christmas. Lucy is now 21 months old, and a very active, intelligent and happy girl who lives with her family at Town Farm Cottage in Milbourne.The couple stayed at one of The Sick Children’s Trust’s ‘Homes from Home’ - Crawford House at the RVI during Lucy’s three month stay in hospital. This meant they were just moments away from her bedside, rather than a two hour return drive, with a direct phone to the special baby care unit.Zoë said: “They were absolutely fantastic to us – we received the most amazing care and she wouldn’t be here but for them.”To express their gratitude to the hospital and the Trust for the care and attention they all received, Zoë and Stephen have organised a “Charity Night” at The Highlander pub near Belsay, where Zoë is assistant manager.The event is being held on Friday 3rd August, beginning at 7.30pm. Tickets cost £10 each. There will be a buffet, disco and also an auction and raffle. All proceeds go to the Sick Children’s Trust, and also the Tiny Lives Fund – the RVI’s special baby care unit charity.Prizes already donated include a flight for two around the Northumberland coast, the use of the pub’s head chef for an evening dinner party at your home, and a chauffeured minibus for a day. Zoë wanted to particularly thank her manageress Gillian Kendall for hosting the event and Ponteland Print for producing promotional material free of charge.
By Chris Jennings