When an emotional Coady Dorman went into labour 11 weeks early, she was scared her first child might not survive.
The 27-year-old single mum from Broxburn, West Lothian, had developed pre-eclampsia, a condition which affects a pregnant woman’s blood pressure which can cause problems with their unborn baby.
She said: “When I was first told Matthew had to be delivered then, I was worried because I’d never heard of a baby being born so early. My first reaction was, am I going to have a baby at the end of it?”
Her beloved son Matthew was born at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary weighing a mere 2lb 5oz. The tiny youngster was then transferred to the special care baby unit at St John’s Hospital in Livingston – which felt like home to mother and baby for the next eight weeks.
Coady cannot speak highly enough of the staff at the unit, who treated her and Matthew like family during an emotional time in her life.
She added: “The staff really looked after you at St John’s. At a stressful time in my life, they were very comforting and we felt safe. I knew Matthew was in good hands. They were all so friendly and it was like a second home to us. It was actually a bit sad to leave in the end on New Year’s Eve 2014 with Matthew weighing 4lb.”
Following Matthew’s first birthday, Coady was determined to give something back to the unit that saved her son’s life. She organised a sponsored walk across the Forth Road Bridge, raising more than £1,000 in the process. She then began volunteering at Bliss – the UK’s leading charity for babies born prematurely or sick. This included spending time each week in the baby unit at St John’s, an opportunity Coady jumped at.
She said: “I have experience of what the parents are going through and I wanted to be part of this amazing team.
“I really get to see what they do behind the scenes for the babies and the families. Even on Christmas Day they gave all the babies a stocking and went that extra mile to make it magical. I am there to listen to the parents and give them support during one of the most difficult times of their life. It can be a lonely time and someone giving emotional support can go a long way.”
Now aged three, Matthew attends Kirkhill Nursery and is a healthy young boy, something Coady will be forever grateful for. This is why she has nominated the unit for the NHS Lothian Health Hero, an award recognising the exceptional care to the people of the region.
She said: “Without the baby care unit at St John’s I wouldn’t have my lovely boy. Matthew is absolutely hilarious with a bubbly personality. I could never picture the wonderful boy he has become after such a rough start in life. The unit are the unspoken heroes of St John’s Hospital. I’d love it if they received the recognition they rightfully deserve.”
Nominations can be made at www.nhslothian.scot.nhs.uk/mediacentre/celebratingsuccess or by calling 0131 465 5821. The deadline is March 31. The Health Hero will be announced on June 13.