The NHS at 70: They saved my babies' lives
If it hadn't been for the heroes working in our NHS, these triplets many never have lived to see their first birthday.
As the NHS prepares to celebrate its 70th birthday – and these youngsters look forward to turning three – their mum is saying thank you to the staff whose hard work meant she got to watch her babies grow up.
Today The Gazette asks readers to join us in celebrating the extraordinary work of our free health service since it was set up in 1948.
We want you – like grateful mum Lena Williams – to share your stories of how the fantastic people working in the NHS have helped make a difference to your life.
For 25-year-old Lena, who says her boys are doing ‘really well’ ahead their third birthday next week, she may never have had the family she dreamed of without the help of her NHS heroes.
Little Josh, Jayden and Jax Williams-Hine were born 13 weeks early in April 2015, with medics at Blackpool Victoria Hospital fighting to save their lives.
Some came in on their day off and worked overtime and extra shifts to ensure the youngsters’ survival.
Their doting mother said the decision by a consultant to give her steroid injections twice in the two weeks earlier made all the difference.
“I don’t think they would have been here if I did not have them,” Lena said.
“It matured their lungs. If I had not had them, God knows what would have happened.”
The mum-of-four, who lives with her sons, including four-year-old Ryan, and her partner Nick Clapp, 36, in Hawthorn Road, North Shore, was given the injections because Ryan had also been born early.
Just days later, she went into labour and started to give birth so quickly the tots were almost born in the car on the way to the hospital.
But staff at the hospital’s neonatal unit were ready, with a team of 30 medics on standby to help deliver the trio – the first triplets to be born on the Fylde coast for years – safely.
Lena, who has previously credited the special baby care unit with saving her boys’ lives and described staff there as ‘amazing’, said she didn’t think they would survive. She said: “I was screaming crying, saying, ‘It’s too early – they are going to die.’”
Josh weighed in at just two pounds and six ounces, while Jayden was two pounds and five ounces, and Jax two pounds and six-and-a-half ounces.
Two weeks after being born, Jax stopped breathing and Lena had to resuscitate him through mouth-to-mouth – “It was the worst day of my life,” Lena later said – and Josh twice ended up in hospital with bronchiolitis.
Speaking ahead of the boys’ first birthday, she said: “The staff there were amazing, I can’t fault them.
“The baby care unit is one of the best in the country and we’re lucky to have it.”
And catching up with The Gazette yesterday, she said Josh, Jayden and Jax have now all started nursery. Jayden and Jax have additional needs, with a series of health workers, including paediatricians and consultants, meeting regularly to discuss their care.
“Every couple of weeks at nursery we have a massive meeting on how they are progressing and what we need to do next,” Lena said.
The former beautician’s family is a dream come true, especially after she was told at 17 she would unlikely ever be a mum because of a health issue.
She turned to the NHS for help and tried the fertility drug Clomid, which proved to be a big success, and more recently sought help for post-natal depression.
“I just kept brushing it off and said I was fine,” she added. “After a year I said, ‘I need to go and get some help because I was suicidal.’”
Lena praised Nick and her family for their support, and said she was given medication to help her recover.
The Neonatal Unit at Blackpool Victoria Hospital cares for babies with a number of medical conditions.
Some babies on the unit are born prematurely, others are born with breathing difficulties or feeding problems and some have abnormalities at birth.
It admits around 350 babies each year and has 16 cots, which are split into the areas of intensive care, high dependency, and special care.
There are an extra six transitional care rooms for newborns well enough to be cared for by parents but who also need extra medical attention, such as a drip.
Opened in 2010, the purpose-built unit was designed to be as comfortable as possible for families.
Clinical nurse educator Julie Kearney said staff ‘responded superbly’ to help deliver the triplets and help with stabilising them afterwards.
“As soon as staff on the Neonatal Unit were made aware of the impending deliveries, extra staff came into the unit from their homes and stayed long after their shift
was supposed to finish,” she said.
“Myself and others came in to work extra hours to ensure the triplets received the best possible care and ensure they remained together here at Blackpool.
“The triplets progressed really well and it was great to see all three gorgeous boys discharged home following their stay on the unit.”