Norfolk hospital’s cots appeal set to hit �500,000 target

Just over a year after it was launched, the Cots for Tots appeal at Norfolk's flagship hospital is within a few hundred pounds of reaching its grand total.

The �500,000 appeal was launched at the end of last year to buy four more intensive care or high-dependency incubators, and the associated building work and kitting-out needed at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital.

The generous support of people in Norfolk means that almost �250,000 of that has been raised in 12 months, with the hospital matching that funding pound for pound.

The necessary building work was completed in September and October, and the new incubators are in place, as well as most of the equipment.

The extra cots means the busy Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (Nicu) can now look after 32 babies at any one time.

More than 850 babies each year are cared for at the unit, but demand is rising. As one of only three specialist neonatal units in the East, it needed to expand to make sure that local premature babies can be cared for, as well as the most critically ill babies from across Norfolk, Suffolk and beyond.

Michaela Wake, 24, and partner Lee Seppings, 31, said words could not describe how thankful they were to the staff at the unit, as they spent their first Christmas as a family with their prematurely-born daughter Ava.

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The 10-month-old was born in February, 10 weeks early and weighing just 3lb and 2oz and the Fakenham family spent five-and-a-half weeks at the unit before Ava was allowed out to their home in The Drift.

Michaela, a night carer for a residential home, said: 'A year ago I had lost a little boy at 22 weeks and was pregnant again really quickly. I was just so scared and didn't really know what the outcome was going to be. But this Christmas we couldn't imagine her not being here.'

The couple are among hundreds of families who are helped by the unit each year and with family and friends have managed to raise �300 towards the appeal. At the end of November, the official appeal total stood at �238,000, but it is estimated to be closer to �245,000 currently.

Mark Dyke, consultant neonatalogist, said: 'We are delighted that the Norwich Cots for Tots appeal has nearly reached its target of �250,000 for incubators, ventilators and monitors.

'We have been able to secure match funding to pay for the building works to house the additional cots. The appeal will continue so that we can carry on enhancing the services we provide for babies and their families being cared for by the unit.'

Beth Coley, fundraising manager at the hospital, said: 'The support from people in Norfolk has been tremendous to help us raise this much money and we'd like to thank everyone who has helped.

'It goes to show just how valued the unit is by the hundreds of families who have spent time there.'

Donations to help the unit reach its total can be made at www.justgiving.com/norwichnicu.

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