Fleur and Keith are so looking forward to their first Christmas with their baby son Aiden. His birth was traumatic and, due to complications, he suffered a shortage of oxygen to the brain. He was whisked away to the intensive care unit where he received cooling therapy - a medical breakthrough supported with significant funding from us.
During Aiden's difficult birth in June this year he suffered hypoxic-ischaemic encephalopathy (HIE). The team in the intensive care unit began to reduce his body temperature to protect him from brain damage, a process known as cooling therapy. This breakthrough therapy is the product of a 20-year programme of research to which we contributed through key projects funded in the 1990s and 2000s.
“For the first two hours I didn’t know whether our beautiful son had survived or not,” remembers Aiden’s dad, Keith. Their baby son had immediately captured his parents’ hearts.
Aiden was transferred from Broomfield to the Rosie Hospital at Addenbrooke’s in Cambridge for further cooling therapy.
“Aiden was wrapped in his ice blanket. His breathing was assisted and he was suffering from seizures. The cooling therapy was helping control these, but it was just so emotionally draining not knowing how affected he would be,” Keith says.
The days that followed, with Aiden in an incubator and wired up to several machines, involved a whirlwind of tests, information and, “enough tears to fill an ocean,” says mum Fleur.
During this time his parents agreed that Aiden should take part in some research being undertaken by Dr Topun Austin who was developing a new way to diagnose seizures in babies.
The ice blanket was removed after 72 hours and Aiden was warmed to a normal body temperature. His parents were concerned this might trigger further seizures but Aiden coped very well.
The day Aiden met his two big brothers, Keiran and Joshua, was a milestone for the family, as was the day when his parents could finally hold him. “We were both very nervous as we didn't want to knock his breathing tubes or wires, but holding Aiden was the most amazing feeling and well over due!” says Keith.
A further huge milestone was the removal of Aiden’s breathing support. He was able to continue to breath unaided but suffered a further seizure and a return to the brain monitor developed by Dr Austin and his team.
Finally Aiden was discharged from hospital and is now home where he should be; with his family. Aiden is doing well, but will need further scans and follow ups.
“We are now calling Aiden a pioneer as, in addition to taking part in Dr Austin’s research, he was the first full term baby to be treated using the ice blanket since commencing the research. We realise that if past research hadn't been done to develop cooling therapy our situation could be very different and if Dr Austin’s research can help even just one other baby it's very worthwhile,” says Fleur.
Each year more than 3,000 babies in the UK die before their first birthday, many of whom before their first Christmas. Cooling therapy saved Aiden, and his parents are so grateful that we were able to fund its development and the research Dr Austin is undertaking, but others are not so fortunate. Together we can save more babies' lives! We urgently need funding for vital research projects, will you help save more babies' lives with a gift this Christmas?