THE PARENTS of a premature baby have praised an “amazing” new app that has helped to keep them connected to their “precious” newborn.

Jenny Clarke, 34, from Hastings gave birth to Barbara in September 2020 at William Harvey Hospital in Kent.

Barbara was born prematurely at 27 weeks and was transferred twice to Evelina London Children’s Hospital for bowel surgery over the following months.

The Argus: The app allows the family to keep up to date with Barbara's treatmentThe app allows the family to keep up to date with Barbara's treatment

Jenny, a customer service manager, and her partner John Britton have been using a new video messaging app called VCreate to receive regular updates on Barbara’s progress.

“As we don’t live close to the hospital, we rely on public transport to visit Barbara, which has been especially difficult over the past few months,” Jenny said.

“The app has been a brilliant way for us to see Barbara and check in on her progress.

The Argus: The family reading to Barbara via the app from their Sussex homeThe family reading to Barbara via the app from their Sussex home

“She also has seven siblings so they’ve loved being able to see photos of her as she grows, as they’ve not been able to see her in person yet.”

A new feature which allows families to record themselves reading a story for their baby launched on the app in time for World Book Day on March 4.

Jenny’s oldest daughter Freya, nine-years-old, recorded herself reading a bedtime story, BoBo and Co Opposites by Nicola Killen, which staff have played to Barbara.

The staff on the neonatal unit send regular photos and messages about Barbara to reassure the family and reduce their anxiety of not being able to visit her daily.

Elaine Wood, neonatal sister at Evelina London, said: “We support parents to be with their babies on NNU as much as possible, and have accommodation near the unit for parents who live further away as many of our families come from across the South East.

“However, we know it can be challenging for parents to stay with their babies all the time and this can cause a lot of anxiety and stress.

"When a baby is admitted to our unit, we sign the family up to vCreate. The app has been vital in helping families feel closely connected to their loved ones during these difficult times”.

Evelina London has the largest neonatal unit in London, caring for 1,000 babies a year right next to the maternity ward.