Youngsters' plight leads family to help others at hospital

Toby and Bradley smiling
Toby and Bradley smiling

A second life-saving machine is now helping Scarborough newborns and their families after a couple’s campaign sparked by their own traumatic experience raised £7,000.

Four-and-a-half minutes felt like a lifetime for Nicola Whiteley and her husband Simon, as doctors kept their premature son Toby breathing by hand while they waited for the respiratory machine he desperately needed to recalibrate.

Daughter Evie , mum Nicola ,Toby, Bradley and dad Simon

Daughter Evie , mum Nicola ,Toby, Bradley and dad Simon

But at the time of Toby’s birth in August 2016, the couple were already fundraising the £7,000 needed to purchase a second continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine after their first son, Bradley, needed the life-saving breathing support.

Prior to the fundraiser, there was only one continuous positive airway pressure machine at Scarborough Hospital, which meant any newborn babies who needed the support of the machine for more than four hours had to be transferred to York.

Bradley, who recently turned two, was also born with neo-natal respiratory distress syndrome.

The distressing first week after Bradley was born inspired the couple to fundraise for a second machine so other parents wouldn’t have to go through the same ordeal.

Bradley and Toby with Dad Simon Whiteley.

Bradley and Toby with Dad Simon Whiteley.

The 27-year-old mum’s second son Toby also needed the machine’s support. She said: “Toby would never have been a candidate for staying in Scarborough as he was premature.

“But the machine in Scarborugh needed recalibrating which takes four and a half minutes. In that time he had to receive manual breathing support from hospital staff.

“It was the longest four and a half minutes of my life.”

Toby, who was born at 34 weeks, was transferred from Scarborough Hospital to intensive care at York Hospital for a week.

He returned to Scarborough Hospital for two weeks before he was allowed home.

Nicola said: “Toby needing the machine spurred us on that bit more. We had done it with Bradley and we always knew any further children we had would never have the second machine available.

“Since Toby needed it as well it became so much more paramount to us to get a second machine for the hospital.”

The couple went on to raise the remainder of the money they needed to buy the machine in less than a year and a second potentially life-saving machine has been installed at the hospital.

“When we started this a year ago, I thought it would take years to do it, but the support from the local community has been amazing,” said Nicola.

“Thank you so much to OurCo Scarborough, Spence Butchers, Judith Doveton, the congregation of St Columba Church and our family for all of their hard work helping us to achieve it. Thank you to all who donated.”

Nicola said her family and friends are very proud, adding:“They think it’s an absolutely fantastic achievement to do it in less than a year. A lot of people at the time thought I was a bit mad and by the time we started fundraising I was already pregnant with my third child (Toby).

“It’s a great feeling knowing that we’ve done something to help other parents who hopefully won’t have go through the same ordeal as us.”

The couple started fundraising in June last year and by Christmas had achieved their goal.

Just three days after the pair held their biggest fundraiser, a children’s disco at the hospital, Toby was born.

Community fundraiser Maya Richardson said: “When a family has had to use specialist equipment, especially to help their newborn, they don’t realise how much their passion comes across when they are fundraising. With Nicola and Simon, they shared their personal story which makes it very real, and people wanted to help.

“Our communities are so generous and their support will benefit so many babies and their families in the future.”