Baby Hospital

Tuesday, 28 June 2011, 9:00PM – 10:00PM

The third film in the series focuses on extremely premature babies, who have been born as much as 16 weeks early. Ten years ago babies born at 24 weeks gestation survived for only a few hours, today they have a chance. But the reality is it’s only a 50-50 chance. 

These are the babies who weigh less than a pound, half a bag of sugar. Their skin is only a cell thick, and they are highly vulnerable to infection and complications of prematurity – such as brain bleeds, and problems with their lungs, kidneys, heart and bowels. 

Dr Chris Dewhurst says: “With our pre term babies people often think they are just born small and completely perfect, but tiny, and all we need to do is fatten them up and get them out of the neonatal unit. 

“But actually the problem with them is all their organ systems are immature and our work is not about fattening them up, but needing to support them.” 

The film follows the moving stories of these tiny babies clinging to life as the doctors battle to save them, while their distraught parents can only wait and hope. 

Dr Mark Turner says: 

“People are afraid their child is going to die and that’s an upsetting thing. Most mothers are worried about the suffering their children have to go through, and an intensive care unit is somewhere people often feel pain and discomfort. But you need to do that to get through. 

“I think many parents do feel uncomfortable that they can’t cuddle their child, can’t hold their hand and their child is going through pain and suffering without their parents by the side.” 

The parents of baby Mohammed, Amani and Riad, face a bill of £175,000 for his care in the Neonatal Unit. They were on holiday from their home in Kuwait to visit family in Liverpool when mum went into labour at 25 weeks. They have had to take unpaid leave from their jobs, they had no insurance ad must stay indefinitely while their son receives vital treatment. They hope the Kuwaiti Government can help them to pay the medical bill. 

Kate and Pete Adams Moor’s son Louie was born 16 weeks early weighing just one pound. Kate was rushed to the Neonatal Unit from her home in Birmingham when she suddenly went into labour. 

Kate says: “Because he was so small my natural instinct was that he wouldn’t survive. But the midwife gave me a hug and said he was OK, and the doctor said he had a strong heartbeat. To go from thinking he wasn’t alive to hear that he has a heartbeat was amazing.” 

Louie is doing well until he contracts an infection which leaves him critically ill. The doctors and nurses battle to save him, but sadly without success. 

Kate and Pete decide to mark Louie’s due date on March 25th by getting married. 

Kate says: “We didn’t want to be sat around on the 25th March every year thinking what if. 

What if he’d survived, or what if he’d gone to full term. 

“We just wanted everybody around us on Louie’s day in a celebration, so that every year we could look back with happy memories and fond memories, and have memories of a celebration rather than every year having a day that was sombre.”

Tuesday, 14 June 2011, 9:00PM – 10:00PM

New documentary series Baby Hospital follows the moving stories of the babies being cared for on the Neonatal Unit at Liverpool Women’s Hospital. 

Everyone hopes for a healthy happy baby – but this three part series looks at the one in ten cases where things don’t go to plan, and the baby ends up in intensive care, teetering between life and death. 

With unique access to the hospital, the three part series will focus on babies born as much as 16 weeks early, as well as the stories of their families, providing a rare and intimate insight into the intensely demanding work of the doctors and nurses tasked with doing all they can to save their tiny patients’ lives. 

The Women’s Hospital in Liverpool is the largest of its kind in the country. As a centre of excellence, its dedicated staff prides themselves on being at the cutting edge of neonatal science. They provide round the clock care for babies born prematurely, with low weight or who have a medical condition requiring specialist treatment. The neonatal unit cares for a thousand babies a year – some of the smallest and sickest – babies who weigh just half a pound, and who are on the cusp of life. 

Dr Chris Dewhurst explains: “Our little babies are the most vulnerable of all patients really. The baby has not been asked to be born early or poorly. I always think this is the baby’s first day alive; he hasn’t got his mum and dad here, so we need to take care of him and treat him like our own baby. 

“The dream of everyone when they think about babies is these very cute cuddly little things in white nappies being taken home to beautiful houses and that’s not always the case. 

“I like to think of the neonatal unit as a happy place but we have to accept that we experience the extremes of human emotion on here. We will have the elation of parents taking home their 24 week baby, through to the despair and sadness of parents who are expecting a normal term healthy term baby and something goes wrong.” 

For most parents the birth of a baby is a time of great happiness and excitement. But when there are complications, a baby is born prematurely or has medical problems, parents face an emotional roller coaster. 

The series shows the devotion and determination of the nursing staff as they battle to save the lives of babies in their care, and the courage of the families as they try to cope with difficult and heart rending decisions about their children’s future. 

Executive producer Paul Hamann said: “Nine out of ten babies in the UK are born healthy, so most of us take having a healthy baby for granted. 

“But the senior staff at Liverpool Women’s Hospital, the largest in this country, wanted to tell the real story of what happens to the one in ten, where things don’t go to plan – and to show exactly what that can mean for families.” 

The documentary is narrated by actress Sue Johnston. 

Baby Hospital is a Wild Pictures production for ITV1. The executive producer is Paul Hamann and the series producer and director is Lynn Alleway. 

Programme One 

The first programme focuses on three families whose babies’ births have involved complications: the babies were starved of oxygen during the birth process. When this happens all the main organs will be affected. Usually they recover, but what everyone worries about is the brain. So families face a heart-wrenching wait to learn whether there is going to be long-term brain damage. 

Eighteen-year old mum Amy knows from the outset that her baby son Charlie may not pull through; he was starved of oxygen at birth, and his kidneys have not made the initial recovery. With amazing strength this inspiring young mum decides to make the most of every day with Charlie, celebrating the fact that he is here, for however short a time. Sadly baby Charlie lives for just 12 days. 

Laura and Phil Pover’s baby daughter Olivia was stillborn two years ago, and they desperately need their new baby son Riley to be well. As mum Laura explains: “We all pray that we have a healthy baby. I just want a baby I can take home this time.” Riley thankfully survives, but his survival is at a price; his family discovers he has suffered some brain damage. 

Baby William had to be brought back to life at birth. Doctors feared he had such severe brain damage, they used a pioneering new treatment on him. His body was cooled for three days after birth. The treatment is thought to reduce fits and therefore brain damage. Weeks after birth, William ended up surprising everyone – his MRI scan was fine. 

William’s dad Jason is bursting with joy and relief at the news: “It’s the best news I’ve ever had in my life.” 

Dr Mark Turner says: “Brain damage is frightening because of communication. If you can’t talk to someone that you love and you can’t get their response to what you’re saying then that’s the most difficult thing. For me that’s what many families fear the most.” 

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