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Leicester's neo-natal lifesavers - leave your message of thanks here


Baby's first steps are always a proud moment for parents but they also bring a deep sense of satisfaction for Dr Andy Currie.

They mark the moment he can sit back and reflect on how he has helped some the smallest and sickest babies survive.

There is not always a happy ending – there are many times Dr Currie has to break bad news to parents – but it all comes with the territory for the man in charge of the neonatal unit at Leicester Royal Infirmary.

Dr Currie said: "I get a lot of satisfaction in doing my job.

"It is highly rewarding dealing with patients at the beginning of their life and, hopefully, helping them to have a long and healthy life."

Dr Currie and his wife Carolyn, a diabetic research nurse, moved to Leicester in 1992 from Southampton and have two children.

He has been in charge of the neonatal service at the infirmary for four years and oversaw the creation of a £9.3 million unit in the hospital's Kensington building.

Dr Currie and his team care for about 1,200 babies a year and are hoping to open four more intensive and special care cots later this year, to add to the 28 already there.

If all goes to plan this will increase by four more the following year.

He said: "The biggest change since I qualified in 1986 has been in survival.

"The chance of children born between 23 and 25 weeks is much better than it used to be thanks to technology and new drugs.

"But now I do think we have hit a biological brick wall.

"It is difficult to see we will be able to do any more for babies born at less than 23 weeks and weighing less that about 500 grams. They are just too small and fragile.

"We did once have a baby which was 450 grams who survived but that is the exception and not the rule.

"It is not about survival at all costs, it is the quality of life which is important."

Another major step forward is the cooling of babies who have been starved of oxygen at birth.

The specialist cooling machine prevents permanent brain damage due to a lack of oxygen.

Dr Currie said: "This has a profound difference to our ability to treat these children.

"There is still a long way to go but it has made a big change."

It is obvious to Dr Currie what the best part of the job is.

"Seeing the babies go home and how they grow and develop, especially when they take their first steps," he said.

But sometimes that just does not happen and the hardest part of his role is when there is bad news for new parents and the team.

"It is important to ensure the baby does not suffer and it is as dignified as possible," he said.

"Emotion can be a big issue. The job can be extremely upsetting and difficult to manage.

"It is not just the baby, it is also about helping and supporting the family to understand what is happening.

"It would be dishonest to say I never take work home with me, but I do try not to.

"You find ways of dealing with it. I don't believe you ever become hardened to it."

Was your baby cared for by the neonatal team? You can leave a message of using the form below.

Leicester's neo-natal lifesavers  - leave your message of thanks here

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