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How Whitechapel’s ‘home from home’ helped couple when their baby arrived in 12 weeks premature

PUBLISHED: 15:07 30 October 2020 | UPDATED: 11:22 03 November 2020

Tiny Brandon born at the Royal London three months too early... weighing just 7lb 4oz. Picture: Farrow family

Tiny Brandon born at the Royal London three months too early... weighing just 7lb 4oz. Picture: Farrow family

Farrow family

A couple’s romantic weekend break turned into an unplanned eight-week stay by a hospital bedside at the Royal London when their baby boy was suddenly born 12 weeks before he was due.

Baby Brandon gets well... ready to go home with mum and dad. Picture: Farrow familyBaby Brandon gets well... ready to go home with mum and dad. Picture: Farrow family

Sarah and Paul Farrow were on a city break when the mum-to-be went into premature labour at just 28 weeks and gave birth to Brandon weighing just 3lb 4oz, less than half the average newborn.

The bbaby then took a turn for the worst with just a 50-50 chance of survival.

The couple were 270 miles from their home and family in County Durham when Sarah went into labour.

“We had to deal with the stress of where we would stay in London while waiting to see if Brandon would pull through,” Sarah recalls.

Brandon gets lots of TLC from Sarah as he slowly recovers from his oh-so-early birth. Picture: Farrow familyBrandon gets lots of TLC from Sarah as he slowly recovers from his oh-so-early birth. Picture: Farrow family

That’s when the Sick Children’s Trust stepped in and told the couple they could stay free at Stevenson House, their “home form home” project in Whitechapel just two minutes’ walk from the hospital.

“I didn’t know what to say,” Sarah admits. “It was absolute relief at not having to worry about how we were going to be with our little boy while he was fighting for his life.

“Staying at Stevenson House made such an incredible difference to be just a stone’s throw away. I could stay at the hospital until the early hours or come and go as I pleased.”

The charity gives 600 families—many with babies born premature in the hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit—one less thing to worry about with a place to stay just minutes from the bedside.

One year on... Sarah and Paul Farrow on a stroll in the countryside with a bouncing Brandon hitching a ride on dad. Picture: Farrow familyOne year on... Sarah and Paul Farrow on a stroll in the countryside with a bouncing Brandon hitching a ride on dad. Picture: Farrow family

Little Brandon beat the odds and bounced back to get well. It took eight weeks while they waited for his lungs and immune system to develop and to learn to feed on his own rather than through a tube, but the couple were able to return home with their bundle of joy.

That was a year ago—now he’s doing well and hitting all his milestones.

Evidence shows better results for ill babies when their mums and dads are involved in hands-on care while they are in hospital, the Sick Children’s Trust points point. But it needs urgent cash to help such families.

The charity’s chief executive Jane Featherstone said: “This year has been challenging for everyone, but we are asking the public to consider a £30 donation to support families with premature babies in hospital.

“This money gives couples like Sarah and Paul a place to stay close by, keeping them together and keeping our ‘home from home’ open.”

The Sick Children’s Trust is making an online appeal for World Prematurity Day which is on November 17.


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