Two young Saints fans, Reggie and Evan, have captured the hearts of those around the world. Having been born premature, they have overcome countless challenges and alongside their families, they are now helping others in similar situations.
To say thank you to the incredible team that cared for their children, Reggie and Evan’s mums are running an event at St Mary’s Stadium to raise vital funds and awareness.
I had the pleasure of speaking with Reggie’s Mum, Kate, about her experiences with the NICU at the Princess Anne Hospital in Southampton, as well as how everyone can get behind this incredible cause.
Reggie and Evan’s story
Reggie was born premature and unresponsive, weighing only 2lbs at only 26 weeks in November 2020. After two failed attempts to ventilate, the third attempt proved successful, however Reggie had sepsis and was given a 10% survival rate. Two days in, Reggie began to breathe without ventilation and on just oxygen, yet he faced blood infections, sight problems, collapsed lungs and was found to have brain damage. While the extent of brain damage remains unknown until Reggie reaches two years of age, he has battled his way through every challenge and has been home since March on continuous oxygen.
Evan was born in January at 29 weeks, weighing 2lb 8oz. He was cared for by the same NICU team as Reggie, needing a ventilator and facing complications during his stay. Requiring oxygen until a week before he left the hospital, Evan is now home, happy and no longer requiring oxygen.
Reggie’s Mum, Kate, and Evan’s Mum, Hazel, have launched an event to raise awareness and funds for the incredible Southampton NICU, to say thank you for their life-changing work.
Their experience at the Princess Anne Hospital
Kate explained the ways that the team at the Princess Anne Hospital help families to cope with the medical and emotional challenges that they face.
“From the moment you walk through those double doors, it’s like a completely different world, seeing four nurseries full of poorly babies. But from that moment, the support starts there. Nothing is ever too much for the nurses, from being a shoulder to cry on, to having a cuppa and talking about normal life, all while they are caring for our helpless babies.
“The unit doesn’t only care for premature babies; they also care for term babies born unwell, but the care doesn’t change. You can feel the love they have for each baby and everyone is treated as an individual.
“When Reggie’s lungs collapsed, we had no idea what was going on, but we were told the truth the whole way through, but in a sympathetic way. We were offered a room to stay in so we could be close to Reggie and there was always someone supporting you in the unit. Our family support worker, Lisa, gave us her mobile number and told us to call any time.”
Staff went above and beyond
Throughout every family’s stay, the communication and care is second to none.
Kate explained: “With other children at home, we felt guilty for our other children. On many occasions, the nurses told us to have a day at home and Reggie would Facetime us. I honestly from the bottom of my heart don’t think the staff treat it as a job. They do what they do because they love and care.”
The event is taking place at St Mary’s Stadium on Friday 26th November. Guests can enjoy a two-course meal, raffle, auction and live band, with Evan’s dad as the drummer. It’s set to be a fantastic day out and the money raised will go towards changing lives that are just beginning.
Kate added: “The event means everything to both Hazel and I. It’s a fact that if NICU wasn’t there, neither of our boys would be here today.”
How donations help
Kate went on to explain the many ways that donations can make a difference to the lives of those in the NICU.
“Vcreates is an iPad at the end of each incubator or cot, so overnight the nurses capture pictures of your baby and send them to you via an app. These iPads are funded by charitable donations and I can’t help but think if there wasn’t one there for Reggie, I would have missed so much. We want to help make sure that future families have what we had and more, and we know that the money we raise will definitely make a difference to other families’ lives.”
The support so far has been incredible, with people around the world getting behind the cause, celebrating these young Saints fans and getting involved for a brilliant cause.
Kate added: “I can’t even begin to tell you how overwhelmed we are by the support we have had, from people in local shops taking in our charity buckets to raise money, to people in Australia also raising money for the cause and strangers buying off our Amazon wish list, so we have more prizes to raffle off. We’ve also had Twitter followers donating to our Go Fund Me; just strangers that are following the boys’ journeys. We had a very generous local businessman find our event and sponsor it all, which gave us the opportunity to put the ticket sales into our pot. A couple of other local businesses have bought raffle prizes and we have publicised their business as a thank you. We just want to spread awareness that these little humans are made of tough stuff, because they were cared for by uncaped superheroes!”
How to get involved
There are plenty of ways that you can get involved, from donating, to purchasing items on the Amazon Wish List. To get in contact with Kate, click here to head over to her Twitter page.