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Parents have a Buddy to help at the Trevor Mann unit
Parents of premature babies are being offered extra support with the launch of a new service.
The Trevor Mann baby unit at the Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton joined forces with the charity Bliss this week to start a Buddy Scheme.
The unit provides specialist care for seriously ill babies and those born early at the Royal Sussex and other hospitals across Sussex, often for months at a time.
Families often feel helpless and alone when they first take their baby home after previously being surrounded by nurses and doctors.
Staff nurse Sarah Randall realised parents of children who had been treated at the unit would be in a good position to provide help and advice to those whose babies have just been discharged. She contacted Bliss and the Buddy scheme was set up.
The Buddies were given special training earlier this year and are now ready to provide help for those who need it. Nicola Scroggins, 37, of Meeching Road, Newhaven, gave birth to daughter Keira at 27 weeks, and has now signed up as a Buddy.
Keira, who only weighed 1lb 8oz, spent almost six months at the Trevor Mann and another four months at the neighbouring Royal Alexandra Children’s Hospital before finally being discharged.
Mrs Scroggins said: “I wanted to help other families going through similar things to what I experienced with my daughter. It can be overwhelming for families when they finally get to take their babies home, so Bliss Buddies are here to give advice from the point of view of someone who’s been where they are.
“Keira is now five and doing really well. She is a little bit behind in terms of development but is catching up fast and enjoying going to school.
“She has a little bit of a problem with chewing and swallowing and so still has a feeding tube but apart from that she is very active.
“It was a bit scary when we first got her home and we did not really know any other parents in the same position as us who would understand what we were dealing with.
“Having someone like a Buddy would have been great and I’m hoping myself and the others will be able to help.”
There are 24 cots at the Trevor Mann, and the unit treats around 500 babies a year. For more details about the charity’s work, visit www.bliss.org.uk.
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