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Family thanks neonatal team for caring for daughter twice

Posted on Wednesday 25th May 2022
Parents Garry and Katie with daughter Kallie

Garry and Katie Nie with daughter Kallie

A couple has thanked colleagues at Evelina London who cared for their daughter twice when she was a newborn.

Garry and Katie Nie were expecting their second child to arrive in January 2022, but after contractions began while Katie was at work, daughter Kallie was born eight weeks early in November 2021 on World Prematurity Day.

Katie works as a portering manager, and was working at St Thomas’ Hospital when she started experiencing some cramps. She returned to St Thomas’ specialist maternity unit later that evening when the pain got worse.

Katie, 36, said: “I was told that my first waters had broken which meant it looked like Kallie would be born early, so I had to have some medication and go for some tests. I felt fine and was walking around the ward ok. That night I went to bed and started having contractions.”

After further observations, Katie was told she was in labour so hastily told Garry to rush to the hospital. A few hours later, Kallie was born, weighing just under 4 lbs.

Louise Gibbons, the midwife who delivered Kallie, said: “I’ll always remember when Kallie was born as she was the first, and currently only, baby I’d ever delivered who was born inside the amniotic sac after almost five years as a midwife. Katie did such an incredible job in her labour and delivery.”

An hour after she was born, Kallie was taken to our neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), which is co-located with the specialist care of maternity services. Kallie spent two nights in intensive care before being moved to the special care baby unit for three nights.

Katie said: “Though it was such a scary time, every day we could see that she was getting better and better. The team were so amazing, not just with Kallie but also with us and making sure we were alright and understood what was happening. They even made sure we were getting enough sleep.”

Kallie had to spend another 10 days in their local hospital, the Queen Elizabeth in Woolwich, before she was able to go home for the first time and meet her five-year-old sister Gracie.

Katie said: “Everything seemed to be fine for the first week, but then Kallie developed a cough. After taking her back to our local hospital, they found she had contracted bronchiolitis which meant she was struggling to breathe.”

Bronchiolitis is a chest infection that affects babies and children under two years old. It's usually mild but for premature babies with developing lungs, it can be fatal.

Doctors put Kallie on mechanical ventilation while they waited for a bed to become free at a specialist hospital, which could be anywhere in the country. Katie said: “As we’d received such good care at Evelina London and I was already so familiar, I was hoping we’d be able to go back there. Thankfully, the first bed that became available was back at Evelina London’s paediatric intensive care unit (PICU).”

Kallie was picked up by the South Thames Retrieval Service (STRS), a team of experts based at Evelina London, who bring intensive care equipment via a specially equipped ambulance to transport critically ill children to a specialist hospital.

Katie said: “It was horrific to see Kallie when she was on ventilation, worse than the time we spent at Evelina London after she was born. Seeing her hooked up to all of those machines felt like she’d gone backwards after all the progress she’d been making.”

After being transferred to our PICU, Kallie began to respond well to the treatments she received, and after spending 48 hours on ventilation to improve her breathing, she was able to go back home.

Katie said: “Since then she’s just continued to get better. She’s now six months old and is putting on weight and growing fast. She also sleeps all through the night so we can’t complain too much, despite all the scares early on!”

To thank all of the neonatal team who cared for Kallie, both when she was born prematurely and when she was readmitted with bronchiolitis, Garry is raising money for Evelina London Children’s Charity. On Sunday 29 May he’ll take on the 100 mile RideLondon challenge across London.

Security analyst Garry said: “It’s hard to put into words just how grateful Katie and I are. The team at Evelina London were just amazing. I wish we could do more than raise money for them because we feel like we owe them so much. Seeing the way the NICU and PICU teams work just gives you a whole new perspective on what they do to save babies lives every day. Kallie had one to one care throughout her time at Evelina London to make sure she was getting better and without that level of attention and expertise the situation could have been so different.

“The ride is definitely going to be a challenge for me, but I’m really looking forward to it. Having such a personal connection to Evelina London and knowing it will go towards helping children like Kallie is enough to keep me going when it gets hard.”

Midwife Louise Gibbons, continued: “It’s so fantastic to hear how well Kallie is doing now. I’d like to thank Garry for fundraising for Evelina London and wish him the best of luck taking on the RideLondon challenge.”

To donate to Garry’s RideLondon fundraising visit JustGiving.

To learn more about how Evelina London Children’s Charity supports our children and young people, visit their website.