Published on 8 March 2022
A family whose baby was born 12 weeks early has paid tribute to the ‘angels’ who saved his life – and that of his mum.
Baby Enzo Alexander was born by emergency caesarean section at the William Harvey Hospital after mum Yvonne Welch suffered a life-threatening bleed.
He spent 99 days in the hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, and the family also received support from the specialist neonatal outreach team once he was finally able to go home to join his four brothers and sisters, and dad Paul, in Ruckinge, near Ashford.
Yvonne, 37, said: “He’s our little miracle baby, and he wouldn’t be here without the fantastic teams at the William Harvey Hospital.
“If I hadn’t been in hospital for monitoring when I started bleeding, we both would have died.
“In three and a half minutes I lost pretty much all the blood in my body. It was like someone had turned on a tap.
“I remember when they said they were going to keep me in, I really didn’t want to stay and I thought it was unnecessary – but if they hadn’t we wouldn’t be here today. That decision, and their quick actions, saved our lives.”
Enzo was delivered within minutes but Yvonne was in theatre for several hours as medics struggled to stop the bleeding, and eventually had a hysterectomy to remove her womb. She had to spend time in the critical care unit and was in hospital for two weeks.
She said: “I couldn’t see Enzo for the first few days and when I finally did I was so scared. I didn’t know if he was going to survive.
“He was absolutely tiny and looked a bit like a little alien, he looked so fragile.
“But the whole team in NICU were unbelievably reassuring, and they made us feel so safe; we knew he was in good hands.”
Tragically, Yvonne’s dad became seriously ill and just two days after she was discharged from hospital she had to travel to Scotland to see him – leaving Enzo in hospital.
She said: “The staff in the NICU got me through one of the hardest times of my life, with Enzo being so ill and then losing my dad.
“I had no concerns at all about leaving Enzo with them; they were like angels.
“They were so compassionate and empathetic, you could tell they loved their work and they loved helping and comforting us.”
The family were finally able to bring Enzo home just before Christmas, and then benefitted from the support from the dedicated neonatal outreach team; specialist nurses who visit families at home in the weeks after discharge.
Yvonne said: “When he was in NICU he was on a monitor and the staff were always there, then suddenly we were on our own.
“Even though I’ve had four other kids, being home without that level of support was scary. I don’t think I slept that first night, I just kept checking on him.
“The outreach team came out that first week and they were a huge comfort. They knew the world of prematurity, they understood how I was feeling. They made me feel at ease, because they were from that department and were experts in premature miracles like Enzo.
“It made a massive difference and it would have been very scary without them.
“We feel so grateful to have him here with us and we will definitely tell the grandchildren about the fantastic teams who saved his life and cared for him.
“I wouldn’t have been able to do it without them - we wouldn’t be here without them.”
Vicky Cookson, lead sister for the outreach team, said supporting families like Yvonne’s was hugely rewarding.
She said: “The team absolutely love what we do and it’s wonderful to see parents grow in confidence as they settle in at home.
“It can be very daunting when they leave hospital and we are here to support them and help allay their concerns.
“Enzo was with us for such a long time that it’s understandable Yvonne and Paul were anxious at first but they soon developed a routine and Enzo is thriving.”