Jan 28 2011 by Kaiya Marjoribanks, Stirling Observer Friday
A GLITTERING night organised by a Drymen fundraiser is set to support lifesaving work for sick and premature babies at Stirling Royal Infirmary.
Elizabeth Emmerson – who despite a fear of heights is also preparing to skydive with friends in June for the cause – is holding a Hollywood-themed night in September in aid of the hospital’s neo-natal intensive care unit.
Among the acts featured at “Jessica’s Ball” will be Britain’s Got Talent dance act and semi-finalists The Fusion, top Michael Bublé tribute act Kevin Roger, and former Bad Candy singer Natalie James.
Elizabeth’s effort has been inspired by the experience of friends Barry and Gail Manson, whose daughter Jessica was born an incredible 16 weeks premature in September weighing just 1lb 5oz (600 grammes). Only one other baby at the hospital is believed to have been born weighing less than Jessica and survived.
Now a “whopping” 6lbs 2oz, Jessica was allowed home just before Christmas, and her overjoyed parents know better than most the importance of the unit’s work, which has helped hundreds of families.
“When Jessica was born so early it was such a shock,” said Gail. “I had been diagnosed with pre-eclampsia (a condition which puts the lives of both mother and baby at risk), which came as a shock, and the doctors had no choice but to give me a C-section.
“When she was born the doctors told us they thought we had a girl but she was so tiny that they couldn’t be absolutely sure. She was given a 50/50 chance of survival.
“Everyone who sees her now says she is so small – but she looks enormous to us now!
“The neo-natal team have a job to do but you can tell they can’t help but become attached to the babies and the families. It takes special people to be able to do the work they do.”
“She was so small but hooked up to so many monitors,” said Barry. “There’s no doubt that Jessica has a fighting spirit, but without the help of the neonatal ICU team she would not be here today.
“It is difficult to describe everything parents go through. It is a rollercoaster of emotions and you are just not prepared for it. Not only, however, do they help the babies, they also help the parents and families cope through it all. You build up some really close relationships.
“We are both very grateful to Elizabeth for organising this fundraising effort.”
Elizabeth said: “This is an amazing unit with wonderful staff. They have saved Jessica’s life – and there are many more people like Barry and Gail whose children are with them because of the work they have done.
“An incubator for the unit alone costs £30,000 and for every baby they care for it costs in the region of £1200 per night.
“A baby born at 24 weeks, although unusual, is not uncommon nowadays and many of them survive due to the work of this unit and many like it.”
“Jessica’s Ball” will take place on September 24 in the Golden Lion Hotel, Stirling, with all proceeds being donated to the SRI neonatal ICU. It is a black tie affair and tickets are £65, with VIP tickets and tables available. There will also be an auction on the night.
For tickets, further info or to donate raffle or auction items or offer corporate sponsorship or support, email: firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 07596104332.