Tommy’s – £36,000 could fund a specialist midwife for a year

Tommy’s

What Poundland fundraising in 2017 could achieve for us:

36,000 could fund a specialist midwife for a year, preventing stillbirth and supporting mums and babies at our Manchester research centre.

Case study:

Dave and Laura Liggins were cared for by Tommy’s team at our specialist clinic for stillbirth and small babies in Manchester.

“Every time I look at my tiny daughter, I can’t believe she’s really here. Casey has been a fighter since before she was born, we’re just incredibly grateful that she had the Tommy’s team in her corner.

I’ve no doubt that the Placenta Clinic in Manchester, funded by Tommy’s, saved her life.

Tommys pic

It all went smoothly until our 20 week scan which showed our baby was only measuring at 18 weeks. We were due to fly to Spain for a family holiday the following day, but cancelled our flights and went back to Bolton where a second scan confirmed our fears.

Our baby had fetal growth restriction. She was too small for her gestational age

They reassured us, maybe she’d just be a small baby, and asked us to return in four weeks. They were some of the most anxious weeks of my life.

At that 24 week scan however our daughter measured just 20 weeks and we were referred to Tommy’s placenta clinic at St Mary’s Hospital in Manchester.

Within days we had our first meeting with the team at Tommy’s clinic. After carrying out tests, they explained there was an issue with Laura’s placenta. The blood flow through the placenta wasn’t strong enough.

They gently explained that the odds were against us, telling us the worst possible news with such sensitivity and care.

It was at our second appointment at St Mary’s that we were told about the Strider clinical trial to combat fetal growth restriction, in which Laura taking daily Viagra could increase the blood flow to our daughter. They explained that it was a very new trial with only 16 participants in the UK. We signed up to become number 17. We wanted to do anything we could to give our baby a fighting chance.

Laura started taking a tablet three times a day when she was 25 weeks pregnant and we went for daily scans to monitor Casey’s progress.

A week into the trial came the worst point of my life, when the doctors explained what we were up against. If the blood flow became worse and they had to deliver Casey weighing less than 400g she had just a 10 to 20% chance of making it. We had to ask ourselves whether it would be kinder to let Casey slip away naturally rather than subject her to a short, painful life.

I broke down, unable to speak. When you hear the odds are so stacked against you, you feel so hopeless. As a Dad it’s your job to protect your children and there was absolutely nothing I could do for my little girl.

We had to keep fighting for her.

Laura and I talked and we felt that while ever Casey had a chance, while ever she was fighting then we had to keep fighting for her. I remember one night we Googled the name Casey and one of the meanings was ‘brave and strong’, it felt like a sign.

Every day in the womb improved Casey’s chances on the outside. It was incredibly stressful, tortuous, living day to day on hope alone. We placed our trust, our baby’s life in the hands of the placenta clinic team and it was not misplaced.

We were back to daily scans and on the Thursday of week 29, Ed announced it was time to deliver our girl. In Casey’s brain and stomach, the blood was not flowing between heartbeats.

We were numb as we checked in on the Thursday night. I remember being surrounded by all these heavily pregnant women while Laura, at 29 weeks, barely had a bump.

When we first saw her in the incubator it was difficult to grasp just how tiny she was, she’d have fitted in the palm of my hand, our little fighter was finally here.

Casey was in intensive care at St Mary’s for four weeks, then moved to special care at Bolton hospital before coming home in September at 12 weeks old.

If it wasn’t for the incredible work of the placenta clinic she wouldn’t be here

She’s a feisty little thing, protests at having her nappy changed, and I’ve no doubt she’ll keep us on our toes but we don’t mind one bit.

Looking at her, it’s hard to believe she almost wasn’t here. If it wasn’t for the incredible work of the placenta clinic, we’d have lost her. It was an unbelievably traumatic journey and they were with us every step of the way. They went above and beyond, even coming in on their days off to scan us.

These trials are so vital to families like ours, in giving premature babies a chance. I hadn’t heard of Tommy’s before I found myself in desperate need of their support.

I sat there cuddling my daughter last week, just the two of us, and thought about how close we came to losing her. I’m just so grateful to the team at Tommy’s clinic, and to Tommy’s for their passionate and dedicated work. It saved Casey’s life.”

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