It was all smiles at Ninewells Hospital as staff and patients came together to mark World Prematurity Day.
The international event, which officially took place yesterday, aims to raise awareness of premature birth and the impact it can have on families.
Clad in the official awareness day colour of purple, team members of the newborn intensive care unit (NICU) at the hospital came out in force to support the effort.
At the event, Dr Shetty Bhushan, clinical lead for NICU, highlighted the challenges faced by Ninewells staff, new parents and the tiny babies born early.
Dr Bhushan said: “The earliest delivery we have had here is 22 weeks and the tiniest baby weighed just 500 grams.
“But if the babies are born between 22 to 24 weeks, they have a chance of surviving.
“There’s basic things that you have to think about in caring for them before they can go home.
“We had one baby that was here for 160 days but our aim is to have the babies home in time for their initial due date.” Dr Bhushan also explained how the unit can help families caught up in the uncertainty of their child being born prematurely.
He said: “We want to give support to the parents as much as we can.
“They have their own passes to the ward so that they can come and go when they want.
“There are support groups for dads as well.”
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Hayley McDonald, an advanced neonatal nurse who has worked at Ninewells for the past 10 years, also praised the dedication of staff at the unit.
She said: “It’s an absolute privilege to do the work we do.
“It can be a rollercoaster journey with the parents but it is very rewarding to help them.”
Asked if she ever felt the work overwhelming, Hayley said the biggest stress was for the parents rather than the nurses and the doctors.
She said: “The families are the ones going through this and we want to support them as much as possible.”
Among the parents who had come along to support the stall at Ninewells was 24-year-old Emily Allen, whose son Cody was cared for by the NICU.
Speaking to the Tele, Emily said: “My son was born two months premature and it was totally unexpected.
“You go to all the antenatal classes and the appointments before the birth and they make it sound like it will be all smooth.
“But Cody was is the NICU for 22 days and having to put him back in the incubator and not having him next to me was so sad. It was heartbreaking and I felt so helpless.”
The Montrose mum was full of praise for the care she and her young son received during their time at the Ninewells unit.
Emily added: “Cody is now almost nine months old and nothing is stopping him.
“The NICU team have a special place in my heart forever.
“They say it’s just their job but they are true heroes.”
Gemma McIntosh, 27, was another mum who had come along to show her support for the NICU team.
Gemma said: “My daughter was born five weeks premature and everyone at the NICU helped me so much.
“We were in the unit for two weeks and the staff were just amazing. Autumn is 18 months old now and she is back home now doing really well.
“You would never even know she was born premature.”