Student reunited with staff who saved her life 18 years ago
Date: 17 November 2023
A student, who was cared for on our neonatal intensive care unit 18 years ago, has returned to thank staff who saved her life.
Lorraine Che was on the Oliver Fisher Neonatal Unit for 11 weeks after she was born at 26 weeks on 30 September 2005 weighing 850g.
To mark World Prematurity Day (Friday 17 November), she was invited back to the unit earlier today to meet Consultant Neonatologist Dr Aung Soe and Senior Advanced Neonatal Nurse Practitioner Alison Youdale who looked after her.
The Year 13 student who is studying A-Level Maths, Computer Science and IT at Folkestone School for Girls, said: “It was amazing to meet Dr Soe and Alison and to be able to thank them both personally because it really is down to them and the other staff who were working on the unit that took care of me and stood by me, that I am alive today.”
Her mum Dr Jenny Teke, Head of Research and Innovation at the hospital, was with Lorraine during her visit.
Remembering back to when Lorraine was born, the married mum of two, from Ashford, said: “I was anxious, scared, stressed and overwhelmed when Lorraine went on to the unit. Four days later she was transferred to King’s College Hospital for open bowel surgery. I really didn’t think that she would make it, but she did and nine days later she was transferred back to the unit.
“When I finally got to take her home in December 2005 it was surreal. I just couldn’t stop cuddling her. It was one of the best days of my life. For a long time she was called “Little Lorraine” or “miracle baby”. She really wouldn’t be here if it hadn’t been for Dr Soe and Alison and all of the other staff on the unit. The care they provided to both of us was amazing. I can’t thank them enough for what they did for us.”
Dr Soe said: “It was a great honour and a very special moment to meet Lorraine and find out about the person she has become.
“We have a great team here at the Oliver Fisher Neonatal Unit and it’s thanks to a highly skilled group of medical and nursing colleagues who provided the care Lorraine needed 18 years ago that she has gone on to live a full and happy life – just like so many other preterm babies we have cared for over the years.”
As part of the unit’s celebrations to mark the awareness day, 15 babies, who were born at less than 30 weeks and cared for on the unit between 1 January and 31 December 2022, were invited to a special graduation ceremony, along with their family members, during which Lorraine and her mum spoke about their experiences.
Lorraine, who is moderately deaf in her right ear and severely deaf in her left ear and uses hearing aids, added: “Mum and I both wanted to share our experiences with other parents who have babies that have gone through similar situations like me to inspire them and importantly to show them that being premature, and disabled should not stop their child from achieving their dreams.”
The hospital’s iconic clock tower will be illuminated in purple this evening to mark the awareness day which focuses on premature birth and the impact it can have on families.
In addition, a 3D virtual tour of the Oliver Fisher Neonatal Unit has been released by the Kent Surrey and Sussex Neonatal Network so families can see where their baby is being admitted to, or transferred, to help alleviate anxiety if their baby requires neonatal care.
Users can self-navigate and stop and start the tour at any time to review a particular area of the unit in more detail. Information tags explain the different areas and the equipment used. It also provides an insight into the neonatal transport service as it includes a tour of the dedicated ambulance and transport incubator.
It was co-produced with families, working with Kent, Surrey and Sussex Parent Advisory Group (PAG), neonatal staff, Maternity and Neonatal Voices Partnership (MVPs and MNVPs), Local Maternity and Neonatal Services (LMNS) and Kent, Surrey and Sussex Operational Delivery Network (ODN). To view the 3D virtual tour click here.
Lorraine Che, who was born at 26 weeks and weighing 850g, has returned to the unit she was on to thank Consultant Neonatologist Dr Aung Soe and Advanced Neonatal Nurse Practitioner Alison Youdale who looked after her 18 years ago, to mark World Prematurity Day.