My fiancée Victoria gave birth to our twin boys, Louie and Leo, six weeks prematurely. Both were in intensive care and the special care baby unit for three weeks. After we brought him home, one-month-old Louie had cold-like symptoms and was struggling to drink from his bottles. In the early hours of Monday 1st December 2014, Louie didn’t wake up for his feed and was blue in the face. I was desperate as I had to keep him breathing before the ambulance arrived to take him to hospital.
He was rushed to the rhesus department at Calderdale Royal Hospital, Halifax and he still wasn’t breathing when we arrived. They diagnosed him as having a very severe form of Bronchiolitis, an infection of the smallest passageways in the lungs. Doctors said the next few days would be crucial. Louie was very tired and was struggling to keep fighting, so the decision was made to ventilate him. Once the doctors had stabilised his condition enough for travelling, he was transferred to the paediatric intensive care unit at Sheffield Children’s Hospital, over an hour away from our home in West Yorkshire,where he received specialist treatment for one week.
He spent four days on a life-support machine to increase his chances of fighting the virus and was given morphine to keep him asleep and settled whilst he was being treated. Those days were a whirl of procedures, test and interventions from the clinical team. Every day, he had three chest x-rays and two blood tests to monitor how blocked his airways were. They gradually brought him off the life-support machine and he was on a special CPAP machine to aid his breathing for a further 24 hours before being moved out of intensive care and on to a children’s ward.
Along with Leo and our daughter Scarlett, Victoria and I were able to stay close by to Louie because of Treetop House, a ‘Home from Home’ provided by The Sick Children’s Trust. The house is just a lift ride away from the hospital’s children’s wards and we could be by Louie’s side in minutes.
They gave us a free room to stay in and, due to the fact we live over an hour away and also had a then 21 month old daughter, it was a great relief to be able to all stay together. In fact, being together as a family made it a lot easier for us to cope. We were with Louie 24 hours a day, taking it in turns to sit with him but also having time with Scarlett and Leo. With another new-born, it was so important that we had the time to bond properly and give him the attention he needed while his brother was so poorly. Having a place to stay at Treetop House meant they didn’t miss out on seeing Vic and I, which they might have done if we had to travel to Sheffield every day.
We always had tea together and had an hour of play with Scarlett, so it was as normal as possible. The staff at Treetop were fantastic and the facilities are great. It didn’t feel like we were in a hospital, it was closer to being at home in a warm, comfortable room with lovely living areas, which made us all relaxed and calm for Louie`s sake.
Once Louie was out of danger, he was transferred back to Calderdale Royal Hospital in Halifax for a further three days before being discharged. Louie has continued to make a recovery since leaving hospital and now at over four months old, he is developing well.
We appreciate everything The Sick Children’s Trust have done for us at the worst time of our lives and will be fundraising all this year ready to make our presentation on 1st December 2015.
Rory Wallin, Louie’s Dad