Working in a special care baby unit can be emotionally challenging for anyone, but Claire Hart is more than aware of the sheer devastation that parents go through when they lose a child.
The 37-year-old nurse lost her son Kaden on February 2, 2011, when he was stillborn.
But despite the challenges of being in an environment that can evoke difficult memories, the mum-of-three from Caerphilly spends her time providing round-the-clock care for newborn babies who are sick or born prematurely at Cardiff’s University Hospital of Wales.
And she believes her experiences have made her a better nurse when it comes to helping parents who are dealing with their own losses.
She said: “I was 39-weeks pregnant – so I was full-term – when I had him. I was induced and he was just over 9lbs and we named him Kaden. We had already decided his name.
“It’s hard being a nurse in a special care baby unit after what happened but I think it has made me a better nurse. I work in one of the biggest units in the country so there are a lot of difficult times but, from a personal point of view, I know what the parents are going through.
“Obviously I always had sympathy for parents who may have lost a baby, but what has happened means I can now empathise with them.”
Since losing Kaden, Claire has set up Kaden’s Trust to raise money for equipment for the special care baby unit at the University Hospital of Wales.
Having launched the organisation on what would have been Kaden’s first birthday, Claire has since raised thousands of pounds. Today (Wed) the organisation will be presenting a cheque to the unit for £6,500 so it can buy a new high-dependency monitor.
Claire said: “We set up Kaden’s Trust in his memory. His first birthday was approaching and I said to my husband, Jason, that I needed to do something. I decided to put on a charity night which was only supposed to be a one-off but after that people started donating money to me and organising more events. It’s kept going since then and we’ve managed to raise more than £10,000.
“It’s been amazing how generous people have been. Through our work we have also met some amazing people who have also lost babies and been able to share our thoughts and feelings. It’s been incredible at times and definitely overwhelming. We have held events for Kaden’s first and second birthdays.
“We also held an event in July in memory of another baby girl, and have organised things like clairvoyant nights and Halloween parties to help raise the money for this monitor.”
The monitors are used to keep track of a baby’s heartbeat and may also be used to keep an eye on their breathing rate, blood pressure and temperature. Nurses attach sticky pads to the baby’s chest, which are in turn attached to wires, which feed through electronic information to the monitor about how each baby is doing.
Currently, the unit has a maximum capacity of 30 neonatal cots and routinely looks after babies born as early as only 24-weeks gestation and occasionally 23-weeks gestation.
Kaden’s Trust is also planning on supplying as many hospitals as possible with hand and foot impression kits so bereaved parents can have a precious keepsake of their baby.
Claire said: “When Kaden was born we were given a box with his hand and footprints in, but they were smudged. I wanted to make sure that parents had a keepsake that was of good quality and I thought the impression kits would be a nice touch. We are hoping to donate these to as many hospitals as possible so parents across the country can be offered something free-of-charge.
“It’s about giving something the parents can take away and treasure.”
Mary Glover, Cardiff and Vale University Health Board’s senior nurse in paediatric critical care and neonatology, is delighted that Kaden’s Trust has raised money for the vital monitor.
She said: “We would like to thank Claire and all who have supported her efforts for this very generous donation.
“The unit is very lucky in receiving the support of many groups and grateful parents who want to do something to help other families.
“The money they raise helps us to provide care and support for babies and their families and I would like to thank Claire and all our supporters on behalf of staff, our little patients and their grateful mums and dads.”
Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information about Kaden’s Trust.