Handmade with Care – Knitted Items Bring Joy to Neonatal Unit

14th April 2023
• Claire Black, Cathy Flinn (Neonatal Lead Nurse), Marie Donnelly and Sharon Ferguson (Neonatal Ward Manager)

Marie Donnelly from Drumaness has shared her passion for knitting and has donated a range of jackets, hats and baby blankets to the Neonatal Unit in the Ulster Hospital.

At 83 years of age, Marie has been working effortlessly knitting dozens of items in an array of different colours for babies who are born prematurely in the Unit. Her desire to ‘give something back’ was inspired by the amazing care her grandson’s wife, Laura received when she unexpectedly gave birth three weeks early to baby Allie Black on 13 December 2016 and spent a period of time in ICU seriously ill in a coma. The family divided their time between ICU and the Neonatal Unit supporting both Laura and baby Allie at a particularly stressful time.

During her recent visit to the Neonatal Unit to deliver the knitted items, Marie said, “When Allie was in the Neonatal Unit, I realised there was a limited supply of clothing for babies born prematurely. Given my love for knitting, I decided I wanted to do something for the unit to help parents. I always like to be occupied, so I decided to knit a selection of hats, cardigans and baby blankets to be used in the Unit.”

Claire Black who is a Smoking Cessation Specialist in the South Eastern HSC Trust, accompanied her mum Marie to the unit and added, “We have seen first-hand when babies are born prematurely that parents are not always prepared. Knowing that there are selfless people like mum out there, knitting items such as these, is so inspiring. It is great that mum is doing something worthwhile and also that she gets a real pleasure out of knitting and giving something back.”

Neonatal Lead Nurse, Cathy Flinn thanked Marie for her generous donation and said, “It is so lovely of Marie to take the time to knit such beautiful items of clothing for our premature babies. Once the babies come out of the incubators to the open cots, quite often the parents would not have any clothing, as they would not have envisaged having a pre-term baby. It is great to have these hats and jackets to use for the babies to keep them warm in the open cots and also when going home.

“These items will be put to good use within the unit and they will also be included in ‘parenting packs’ that we give to parents on Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Easter and Christmas time.

“These are a special keepsake for parents to treasure in the years to come and to remember their journey in the unit.”