Donors given an opportunity to see neonatal ventilator

1 February 2013

Donors who helped pay for a state-of-the-art £24,000+ ventilator for newborn babies will next week (6 Feb) have a chance to see it at Colchester General Hospital.

They have been invited to the hospital's Neonatal Unit on Wednesday to watch staff complete their training on the new equipment, which cost £24,453.10p.

The invitees include representatives of the East of England Co-operative Society and the Colchester Children's Charity Appeal.

Karen Moss, Neonatal Unit Sister, said the ventilator would be used to help the breathing of premature babies, whose lungs have not had enough time to develop fully, and provide intensive care respiratory support for very sick newborn babies.

"Neonatal technology is advancing at a rapid pace and the new ventilator will enable our Level 2 neonatal unit to provide advanced respiratory support," she said.

"More than 30 members of the Neonatal Unit team are being trained in how to use it, and this will be completed next week.

"I'd like to thank everyone, including people who have made relatively modest donations, for making it possible for us to buy this vital piece of equipment."

The East of England Co-operative Society gave £10,000 from its Healthcare Fund, which uses profits from the sale of tobacco products in its stores to support health themed initiatives in the region.

Co-op employee Clair Cutting raised £3,000 and the Colchester Children's Charity Appeal, a registered charity based in Mersea Road, gave £7,000.

A further £550 was raised by Clare Long, a ward clerk in the Critical Care Department at Colchester General Hospital, from the proceeds of a family fun day she helped to organise at The Friar pub in St Christopher Road, Colchester.

The remaining money came from the Neonatal Unit's own charitable funds, much of which consists of donations from grateful parents and relatives.

Graham Appleton, Children's Services Fundraising Co-ordinator, said: "When staff highlighted to me the need to buy this important item of equipment, I thought it was a daunting fundraising task in the current economic climate.

"However, I was overwhelmed by the efforts and generosity of the donors which have enabled us to get this ventilator onto the unit so early in 2013.

"I think this once again reflects how special our Neonatal Unit and staff are regarded by the local community."

The Neonatal Unit, previously known as the Special Care Baby Unit (SCBU), has 17 cots - one intensive care cot, four high-dependency cots and 12 special care cots. It admits 550 babies a year, 25-30% (up to 165 babies) of whom need ventilator support.

There are three levels of neonatal unit - Level 3 offers the most intensive support - and the one at Colchester General Hospital is a Level 2.

This means the unit it is able to routinely look after babies born as young as 28 weeks and also supports babies born as early as 23-24 weeks for up to a day before they are transferred to a Level 3 unit. These babies will be among those to benefit from the new ventilator.

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