“Preemie” parents to take on Great North Run for Gateshead Health’s Special Care Baby Unit.

When their son was born early, it was a traumatic time for new parents Kay and Stephen Dixon. Now they will take on the the Great North Run, to help other parents who also face this experience.

When their son was born four and a half weeks early, at the Queen Elizabeth (QE) Hospital in Gateshead, it was a traumatic time for new parents Kay and Stephen Dixon. This week, Kay and Stephen will take on the 13.1-mile challenge of the Great North Run, to help other parents who also face this experience.

Due to complications in pregnancy, Jamie needed to be delivered more than four weeks early by emergency C-section. He weighed just 4lb 1oz and was cared for in the Special Care Baby Unit (SCBU), which is part of Gateshead Health NHS Trust. Like so many new parents in this situation, Kay and Stephen had no time to prepare for what lay ahead for them and their baby son.

Photo of baby Jamie in his hospital cot

Thankfully Jamie was a “tough cookie” and grew stronger and bigger every day, resulting in a relatively short 17 day stay on the unit.

Mam Kay said: “SCBU is a scary place and an experience which is difficult to explain as there are so many worries, fears and emotions which you don’t expect.

“I wanted to raise awareness of the emotional rollercoaster that ensues when you have a “preemie”. The fear, uncertainty, guilt, inability to hold your new baby and confusion that you feel when in SCBU is indescribable and you really have to take it one day at a time.

“One of the hardest things I found was having to walk out of the hospital each day knowing Jamie was still in there. We are forever grateful to the staff at the QE for looking after our precious boy.”

Both parents have expressed gratitude for the love and support shown to the whole family during their time on SCBU. They commended the patience and dedication of the “amazing” staff, and the way they explained everything they were doing to care for Jamie, all procedures that were needed, what the parents could and could not do, and answered all of their questions.

Kay spoke of the feeling of trepidation that she felt every time she entered the unit, as she had no idea what to expect, but the staff are always there to make families smile, laugh and be a shoulder to cry on when necessary.

Stephen said: “The whole department does everything they can to make it just that little bit easier when you are there. Raising money that will help provide for this department is something we are very passionate about.”

For families who find themselves cared for in SCBU there are many memories that will stay with them forever. The biggest for Kay is the day she arrived in the unit to find a few of the staff waiting for her with huge smiles on their faces. They moved aside to show her that Jamie’s incubator was behind them, empty and told her that after eight days he was ready to be in a normal hospital baby cot.

Kay said: “I felt really scared, confused and began shaking so I walked slowly towards the room and peeped inside to find my gorgeous baby out in the open, ready for cuddles.”

After all of the care and support she received Kay was determined to do what she could to help other families who are facing the same situation. She decided to run the Great North Run in 2022 to raise money for SCBU at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital. Although Kay is not usually a runner and did not have a lot of time for training, she but completed it and thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

This year, Kay persuaded her husband to join her in the Great North Run. Their aim is to complete this run together for all of the little ones, and their families that find themselves in a Special Care Baby Unit. Their motivation to not give up is the fight these little babies face every second of every day, from breathing on their own, having some milk drip fed through their nose, and on towards being strong enough to go home.  

Jamie is now 5 and his parent say he is an amazing, loving, hilarious, strong, independent and caring “big boy”. They are so proud of the fight he had in him and love watching him grow and develop into such an amazing human being, every single day.

You can donate to Kay and Stephen’s fundraising through their Just Giving page.

Photo of the Dixon's holding Jamie.