TinyLife family mark International Premature Awareness Day

On Sunday 17th November 2013, TinyLife, Northern Ireland’s premature and sick baby charity will join forces with parents groups and organisations from across the world to educate others on the implications of premature birth and what they can mean for the families of very sick babies worldwide. 


This year, International Premature Awareness Day will mean something to over 1800 families in Northern Ireland who have been affected by a recent premature birth.  Every day there are 7 babies born too soon in Northern Ireland; some as early as 24 weeks.  This Sunday many families will be sitting beside an incubator in one of our seven neonatal units willing their baby or babies to survive.    


TinyLife, Northern Ireland’s premature and sick baby charity exists to help these families cope with the stresses that premature birth and disability can cause to everyday life.   The charity who is based in Carryduff provide a range of invaluable support services including hospital to home volunteer programme, breast pump loan service, resource library and a recently opened multi sensory room aimed as sensory impaired infants. 


One family who has benefitted from the support services provided by TinyLife are Sofley’s from Lisburn whose triplet boys Dylan, Joshua and Tyler were born 8 weeks early in 2012.  The boys, who weighed 3lb 6oz, 3lb and 3lb 6oz respectively were admitted to the Regional Neonatal Unit in the Royal Jubilee Maternity Hospital where they spent over 5 weeks.


It was during the family’s time in the Royal’s Special Care unit that the couple first became aware of TinyLife and the services the charity provides to families of premature and sick babies.  Upon discharge of the final triplet Joshua TinyLife stepped in, providing the family with a hands on hospital to home family support service that will be in place until the boys turn 2. 

Bringing home a premature baby is very different to bringing home a full term baby.  For us, the worries were three-fold so having both the practical and emotional support of our TinyLife volunteers is an absolute godsend.  Our volunteers come to the house 3 times each week and help with bottle feeding, changing and nursing the boys.  I am in no doubt that without this kind of support, our lives would be considerably more stressful’.  Said dad Brian.


Each year, TinyLife supports over 700 families who have been affected by premature birth like the Sofley’s.  International Premature Awareness Day is part of November’s International Premature Awareness Month and is celebrated by premature baby charities globally. 


Valerie Cromie, Regional Fundraising Manager said, ‘It is fantastic for a small charity like TinyLife to have an ‘international voice’.  It is very difficult for people who have not experienced premature birth to understand that premature doesn’t just mean tiny, there are often health implications as a result of premature birth and the impact this has on families can be devastating.  This is why TinyLife exists, to support the people of Northern Ireland’.


For more information about TinyLife Services, call 90815050 or visit www.tinylife.org.uk