Joy of Felixstowe parents
BOUNCING up and down on his Mum's knee and grinning from ear to ear, nine-month-old Joshua Unthank has come a long way in his short life. It is hard to believe the happy, healthy baby playing in his Felixstowe home today is the same child that spent the first six weeks of his life swamped by tubes in an incubator at Ipswich hospital.
BOUNCING up and down on his Mum's knee and grinning from ear to ear, nine-month-old Joshua Unthank has come a long way in his short life.
It is hard to believe the happy, healthy baby playing in his Felixstowe home today is the same child that spent the first six weeks of his life swamped by tubes in an incubator at Ipswich hospital.
Born three months early on September 21 last year, Joshua weighed just 2lb 6ozs and doctors faced a mighty struggle to keep him alive.
When mum Althea, 36, suffered an abruption of the placenta Joshua had to be delivered immediately if he was to stand a chance of survival.
Althea, of Coniston Close, Felixstowe, explained: "It was very dangerous as it meant he had nothing to keep him alive. He was effectively drowning in the womb and doctors had a matter of minutes to get him out."
Because he was born so prematurely Joshua's body had not had time to develop properly and a duct between his heart and lungs, which should have closed, was still open. He was unable to breathe properly for himself and was placed on a ventilator while drugs were pumped through lines into his arms and legs.
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Dad, John, 48, said: "He was just arms and legs at first and he had tubes everywhere. It was very frightening."
Althea agreed: "It's a very scary thing to go through seeing your baby lying there with all the machinery attached to them. As much as people reassure you it's all going to be ok, it's very difficult to believe."
What makes Joshua's story even more incredible is that, months earlier, Althea, was told she may never be able to have children at all. She said: "I have a malformed uterus, which basically means it is divided into two sections – one larger than the other. I had three miscarriages before Joshua and was told by a gynaecologist that it was highly unlikely I would ever be able to carry children."
Joshua spent a total of eight weeks in the Special Care Baby Unit at Ipswich Hospital before he was allowed home and, apart from a slight problem with his hearing which it is hoped he will grow out of, is now fully recovered.
Both John and Althea are filled with gratitude for the staff who looked after him during his time in hospital.
Althea said: "We were very fortunate there was a special care bed available at that time as they are desperately short of beds. They do such a brilliant job but they need huge amounts of money to continue doing it.
"Without them, and the equipment they have, Joshua would not be here today."
Now, Joshua's granddad, Neville Jarvis, chairman of community services for the Felixstowe Lions, is about to present a cheque for £1,200 to the Special Care Baby Unit on behalf of the Lions. He said "We raise lots of money for different charities but this time we decided on the Special Care Baby Unit as it is one that is very close to my heart.
"The Lions were given £770 by the Sally Ramsay school of dancing who did some fantastic fundraising shows. We then boosted it to £1,200 and the cheque will be presented to the hospital on July 15."