Neo Natal Unit Overjoyed After Receiving £7000 Donation

26th October 2022
Annje, Zara and Ella McKeag presenting cheque to Nurse in charge Sharon Ferguson, Advanced Neo Natal Nurse Practitioner, Doris Wilson and Neo Natal Nurse, Anna Russell

The McKeag family from Comber has raised an amazing £7000 for the Neo Natal Unit at the Ulster Hospital, after their precious daughter Ella spent 10 weeks in the unit last year.

Annje McKeag’s life drastically changed in 2021 when she was diagnosed with pre-eclampsia during the early stages of her second pregnancy. After numerous visits and admissions to hospital, Annje delivered her daughter Ella on the 27th August 2021 at 28 weeks, weighing a very tiny 2 pounds, 9 ounces.

Annje and her husband David went through a roller-coaster of emotions during Ella’s stay in hospital in both ICU and the Special Care Baby Unit. The family experienced the highs and lows of having a premature baby, from being told from the day she was born, hat Ella was a ‘feisty’ baby, to experiencing a sea of doctors around her incubator after she turned pale and limp. However, Ella’s wonderful personality continued to shine through as she battled hurdle after hurdle. The little fighter was finally discharged and brought home to meet her big sister Zara on the 26th October 2021.

Annje said, “You can’t compare everybody’s journey in the NICU, as every baby is different.  When you have a baby in the Neonatal Unit, you realise just how special the staff in there are! They were all fantastic.  We really took a lot of comfort from them during our time there, especially during the pandemic when it was only David and myself allowed in”.

The McKeag family knew from the beginning that they wanted to show their appreciation to the unit for all the kindness and support they received during their difficult journey. The family decided to use their own business, ‘The Five Corners and Brothers Restaurant’ to host a fundraising event. Over 40 friends and family showed up to the six course tasting event, where they also had a raffle, with prizes donated from local businesses.

This event resulted in the family raising a fantastic £7000 for the Ulster Hospital’s Neo Natal Department.

Annje commented “We were blown away by the support and donations we received and we decided to put this towards purchasing Bilicocoon wraps to deliver phototherapy to the babies in a more effective way. These wraps will help the baby receive phototherapy while also being able to be held and nursed”.

The McKeag family returned to the unit to present a cheque to Nurse in charge Sharon Ferguson, Advanced Neo Natal Nurse Practitioner, Doris Wilson and Neo Natal Nurse, Anna Russell.

When asked about what these type of donations mean to the unit, Lead Neo Natal Nurse Alison Bartlett said “We may have the tiniest patients in the hospital, but they require very expensive equipment! We are so appreciative of such large donations from families and so delighted when our neonatal “Graduates” come back to visit. We always ask parents what they would like us to spend the money on and can sometimes purchase bigger pieces of equipment by combining donations from other families. It is great to see Ella and her wonderful family doing so well.”