Parents support for lifesaving unit

Luke at home

Luke at home

TWELVE months ago Luke May’s chances of surviving a life saving operation hung in the balance.

Luke was only 6 weeks old when he fell critically ill with a congenital diaphragmatic hernia and was admitted to the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) at Southampton General Hospital in June 2009.

The condition, which can be fatal, affects 1 in 5,000 babies and is normally diagnosed at or before birth, and it took all the expertise of the staff on PICU to save his life during emergency surgery.

Eight weeks later he underwent another operation to remove his right lung crushed by his bowel which led to the emergency. It is believed that no child so young had survived such an operation, but with the skills of the surgeons and the commitment of the PICU staff, Luke did survive.

For eleven months, in which he had another ten major operations, Luke was cared and supported by the doctors and nurses of PICU, and in May this year, just after his first birthday, he finally returned to his home in Bridport.
Although he still needs constant care, he is learning to live the life of a normal child at home with his family.

Last year his uncle Dan took part in the Great South Run in Portsmouth in aid of the unit that saved his nephew’s life and raised over £3000, and this year, his parents Julia and Julian will be looking to raise more money for PICU when they take part in the event.

Uncle Dan will also be running again to show his support.
Mum Julia said: “Words cannot express out thanks to everyone at PICU for saving Luke’s life. Their dedication, skill and commitment were outstanding, and we are so grateful to them for what they have done.

“Over the course of the eleven months he was in hospital we saw so many other children that were admitted to the unit with serious medical problems, and every member of the staff regardless of the situation were committed to each and everyone, and although our efforts are so small in comparison to theirs, the least we can do is to raise some money to help fund the unit for other parents.

“Any child needing intensive care in the West Dorset area would be treated at Southampton General Hospital so it is a very worthwhile charity to support.

“Until you have been in the position we were, you cannot comprehend what is involved and how much it costs. There is still some way to go before Luke makes a full recovery, but we invite anybody, regardless of the amount, to help give other children the chance Luke has had through PICU’s dedication.”

PICU is the regional centre for the South of England, and one of only 9 tertiary care centres in the UK. This means that any child needing intensive care in the South of England would be likely to receive treatment there.
As there are only 11 purpose built bed spaces, the unit can become full quite quickly. More than 700 children are admitted each year, many from A & E departments across the region or following major surgery. Children from newborn to 17 years are cared for in the specialist unit. This may be due to massive trauma following a road traffic accident, or other serious illnesses, or as a result of serious heart disease in tiny babies.

The unit encourages family centred care by incorporating the family in the care of their child, and providing family accommodation to help the families cope with the trauma of their child being admitted to the unit.
Running such a service requires high standards of care, and this requires frequent investment. The charity, Friends of PICU, aims to support this work by helping to purchase new life saving equipment, as well as toys, baby equipment and in the near future a new ambulance.

The average cost of a night on the ward before any medical intervention is £1500 whilst the incubator that Luke first stayed in cost £75 000; so costs are very high!

The Great South Run takes place over 10 miles on Sunday October 24th around the city streets and has attracted 23,000 runners including some of the world’s top athletes and a host of celebrities.
 If you would like to support PICU then please log onto Luke’s own website where you can read more about Luke and follow a link where you can make a donation to PICU.
There will also be collection boxes in No 10 East Street and Tanners at West Allington.

Pic – PICU1 – READY RUN: Luke and mum Julia who is running to raise money for PICU

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