Birthday with a difference at Queen Alexandra neonatal unit - as staff celebrate the unit's 10th anniversary

Amanda Rolph in the Queen Alexandra Neonatal Unit.
Amanda Rolph in the Queen Alexandra Neonatal Unit.
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BIRTHDAYS are another day at the office for the Neonatal Unit at Queen Alexandra - but Sunday is a very special birthday for the team, as they celebrate the 10th anniversary of the department. 

More than 20 current and former staff members will take part in events across Sunday and Monday to celebrate moving to the facility on Sunday 30 June 2009, with the unit caring for more than 4,500 babies since its opening. 

Senior Sister Jeanette Barns, who has worked on the unit for more than 20 years since its original placement at St Mary’s hospital, said she had seen ‘massive changes’ across the years. 

She said: ‘It’s amazing how quickly ten years flies by. 

‘We have gone from being in quite a small space to being in a bright, modern purpose-built unit.’ 

One of the first mothers to be supported by the unit, Amanda Rolph, whose twins were born more than three months early in the unit one week after its opening, said the ‘fantastic’ team made her experience less like ‘a game of snakes and ladders.’

She said: ‘It was not the happiest time of my life, but the team were fantastic, full of little personal touches.’ 

One of the personal touches dealt with Amanda being unable to touch her daughter, Millie, in the first weeks of her life, as she had to remain undisturbed in an incubator. 

Amanda explained: ‘One of the hardest things is that you cannot touch your little baby.

‘One of the nurses said they needed an incubator cover, and she said I could make it myself – its a momento I still have.’ 

The team prepared Amanda for a medical emergency that struck her daughter just two weeks after returning home.

She said: ‘Before I went home, the nurses taught me how to do CPR, as Millie had been on oxygen for so long. 

‘Two weeks later, she crashed and I had to do CPR in the front room. 

‘The team prepared me for that - they are wonderful people.’

The unit will host a tea party and a certificate ceremony for every family on the unit tomorrow.