Cots for tots hospital appeal

It is a moment a Norfolk family feared may not take place – mother and child happy and healthy and ready to go home.

Thanks to a Norfolk hospital's specialist intensive care unit for babies, that is exactly what new mother Anna Rees and her four-week old boy Monty are now looking forward to.

After complications during pregnancy, Monty was born at 32 weeks, weighing just 3lbs and 2ozs.

He then had to spend the next few weeks being cared for within the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (Nicu) at the Norfolk & Norwich University Hospital. The care he received means that in the next few days Monty will be home for the first time in his life.

And today an appeal is launched to try and help other families and babies in the same situation.

The N&N is appealing for the public's help in raising �500,000 for four new cots.

More than 850 babies each year are cared for at the unit, but demand is rising and it needs to expand. Currently the Norwich-based unit can look after 28 babies at any one time, but as one of only three specialist neonatal units in the East and serving families from across Norfolk and Suffolk and beyond, it can regularly be full.

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Half a million pounds would pay for four more intensive care or high-dependency incubators, and the associated building work and kitting-out needed.

With the public's help, Nicu hopes to get the four new cots up and running by autumn 2011.

Consultant neonatologist 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: 'The expansion of cots will mean that more families are able to stay locally while their baby receives the care they need.'

Miss Rees said: 'I think the appeal is brilliant. I can't imagine what it would have been like if we had to go elsewhere and had to travel.'

To donate to the appeal, log on to www.justgiving.com/norwichnicu. Alternatively, 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.