Esmae Walker had to be rushed for urgent specialised care at the Jessop Wing maternity hospital after being born at 27 weeks of pregnancy, weighing just 2lb 4oz.

Mum, Rochelle said: “After work one day I had a small bleed and felt a bit unwell, so I went to the hospital as a precaution.

“When we got to the hospital they did the usual checks and I was told I was in advanced labour, and just two hours later Esmae arrived by emergency caesarean section.

“Esmae was born in Rotherham Hospital, but was transferred to the Jessop Wing Neonatal Unit for specialist care following a bleed on her lungs and brain.

“The next few days were a blur, then we received a phone call at 1am to ask us to go into the Unit. Luckily we were staying on site in the parent rooms next to the ward so we were only minutes away. Esmae had developed Necrotising Enterocolitis (NEC), an inflammation of the bowel and her bowel had perforated. She needed emergency surgery if she was to survive the night.

“The surgeons told us to say our goodbyes as there was a chance she wouldn't survive the operation. At this point we'd still not held her or picked her up, she was still so tiny. I can't explain how we felt that night - it was the worst night of our lives. I cry every time I think about it.

“Five hours later we learned the operation was successful, the relief washed over us but we knew she still had a long road ahead. Leaving Esmae every night was horrendous particularly when she was so ill. It's not natural to be away from your newborn baby, it goes against all of your instincts.

“We were offered one of the parent flats, funded by Sheffield Hospitals Charity and, just minutes walk from the hospital. It was an absolute god send. We could visit in the middle of the night and seeing that she was ok allowed us to have a few hours sleep.

“Without the flat we would barely have slept and certainly wouldn't have eaten. I can't imagine driving from Rotherham everyday knowing Esmae was so ill - neither of us would have been fit to drive in such an emotional state. The flats and rooms on the ward are a lifeline for parents.”

Babies receiving their care on the Neonatal Unit are among the poorliest in the country. For parents this can mean spending weeks, even months in hospital not knowing if their child will survive.

Thanks to our supporters we were able to fund the parent rooms on the ward and the conversion of four flats to support other families with babies like Esmae.

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