If you have ever been to a neonatal intensive care unit and seen the tiny bodies clinging so tenuously yet tenaciously to life, you will appreciate the technology that makes it possible and the cost of keeping these ‘miracle babies’ alive and well.
Last year a new fundraiser, Bake for Babies, was launched to support the 23-year-old Newborn Intensive Care Foundation (NICF), which raises vitally needed funds for the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Canberra’s Centenary Hospital for Women and Children.
All money raised by the NICF funds medical equipment, research and nurse education to help sick and premature newborn babies of the Canberra region.
Bake for Babies – in which participants bake goods and sell them to friends, family and colleagues – last year raised over $55,000 that went towards the purchase of a humidicrib transporter, for better transport to and from the Centenary Hospital.
This year’s campaign is now on until the end of July and the target is $90,000 to fund four CO2/oxygen monitors that will help prevent blindness, lung injury and permanent brain damage in sick and premature newborn babies admitted to the NICU.
Bake for Babies Coordinator Tina Martinovic, whose own baby was born three months early at 27 weeks and spent 83 days in hospital, said the likelihood of reducing brain, eye and lung damage made this technology a must for looking after the tiniest and most fragile of our newborns.
“Our son, Kristijan, had Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP), an eye disorder that primarily affects premature newborn babies. It is a complication that can lead to blindness, which is why these monitors are so important,” she said.
With access to such medical equipment and the best healthcare professionals, Kristijan, now two years old, can see.
NICF Founder/Chairman and 2016 Australian of the Year, ACT Local Hero Peter Cursley said premature babies in the NICU were fragile and sensitive to sudden changes in oxygenation and carbon dioxide levels which can interfere with the normal development of their eyes, lungs and brains.
“Optimal oxygenation monitoring is critical in the NICU to detect rapid changes in the baby’s respiratory status,” he said.
“A sensor is gently applied to the baby’s body and continuously measures blood gases diffusing through the skin. This form of monitoring in sick babies provides a real-time overview of the baby’s often fluctuating oxygenation and ventilation status. This not only minimises blood sampling from the fragile baby, but the continuous information allows doctors and nursing staff to intervene immediately should any changes in the ventilation or oxygenation status occur.”
Peter and Tina are urging people to get involved. “It is so easy to help. Just register, bake anything that bakes your fancy, sell your bakes creations to friends, family, work colleagues and deposit the funds you raise in the Foundation’s bank account,” they said.
Participants wanting to bake need to sign up to Bake for Babies on the NICF website at www.newborn.org.au or to make a tax-deductiblee donation.