Jessica’s story – for World Prematurity Day 2022

Baby Jessica was born prematurely at 27 weeks, weighing just 865 grams (1lb 15oz). She was transferred to Watford Hospital’s Special Care Baby Unit (SCBU) when she was six days old, and spent a total of almost eight weeks there. Jessica’s story shows how equipment funded through charitable donations helped through her frightening early days.

This is a photo of Baby Jessica who was born at just 27 weeks and was transferred to Watford General's SCBU
Dr Narayanan explains how charitable funding was pivotal
in baby Jessica’s care

Dr Sankara Narayanan, neonatal consultant at West Hertfordshire Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, oversaw Jessica’s care…

“Jessica needed breathing support with non-invasive ventilation, and had a heart condition called ‘Patent Ductus Arteriosus’ which is common in extreme preterm babies. We used the paediatric ultrasound scanner with funds secured by Raise to diagnose and monitor her condition so that Jessica didn’t have to transfer to a cardiology centre.

“Using sound waves, the scanner was the most simple and painless way of identifying the problems with Jessica’s heart. It enabled us to detect any holes or narrowed valves, so we could determine the most appropriate treatment plan for her. Not only can the scanner be used to diagnose cardiac problems, it can also guide heart surgery and complex cardiac catheterisations.

“We already had one paediatric cardio scanner, but it was in constant use and often our youngest patients had to wait until the equipment was transferred from one floor another, waiting for another clinic to finish. This sometimes caused delays when babies were at their sickest, and when speed was of the essence. With this second scanner, we are now able to scan babies more quickly, speeding up their diagnosis and enabling staff to start them on a course of treatment promptly.

“At the time of discharge Jessica’s heart condition had almost resolved and we will be monitoring her progress using the same scanner in our Hemel Hempstead Outpatients.”

We would like to thank the League of Friends of Watford Hospital for their grant which funded this scanner.

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