Posted on Tuesday 6 May 2014
Jackson Cloyd with Mary Mulkerrins and Professor Shennan
A 13-year-old from Texas has returned to the hospital where he clung to life after being born three months early to deliver gifts in honour of his late mother.
Boy Scout Jackson Cloyd weighed just 1lb 10oz when he was born at Guy’s Hospital in 2000. Four months later he defied expectations and was taken home to Texas - he made the journey wrapped in a patchwork quilt given to him by a midwife.
Now thirteen years later, in honour of his mother Gwendolyn who died of cancer in 2008, Jackson has handmade his own patchwork quilts and flown to London to deliver them to other families with premature babies.
He says: “I still have the quilt in my bedroom that was given to me when I was a baby. My parents always told me how lucky I was and about the people in London who helped me.
“To become an Eagle Scout I needed to complete a community service project and I wanted to do something significant to my life.
“My dad and I had the idea about the quilts to show the staff at Guy’s how grateful we are for what they did and to honour my mum by sharing more quilts like the one that I know helped her through a really tough time – hopefully they will bring comfort to others like mine did to her.”
Jackson and his father Myron flew to London and spent a week sightseeing and visiting other scouting groups as well as returning to St Thomas’ Hospital, where the neonatal unit is now based.
Mary Mulkerrins is a bereavement midwife at Guy’s and St Thomas’. She was with the Cloyds throughout Jackson’s first crucial months and gave them the quilt to take their tiny baby all the way back to Houston.
She says: “My neighbour at the time was in a quilting group and often made patchwork quilts for the hospital. I gave Jackson’s mother one when she was worried they had no clothes or blankets for him.
“It was overwhelming to see Jackson after 13 years and receive the beautiful quilts that he had made for other tiny babies. It’s so sad that Jackson’s mother could not return to see us after she fought so hard to keep her son.”
Jackson’s dad Myron says: “My wife and I both worked in healthcare and we knew the implications of having a baby born so early. The first few days in hospital were tough, we were overseas with no friends or family to turn to.
“The care and support we experienced from the staff at Guy’s Hospital was beyond definition. The love they showed us at such a hard time sustained us both emotionally.
“The circumstances that meant my wife could not be with us to make this trip just made it more meaningful. We did it in her honour and we gave thanks to everyone on her behalf.”
Professor Andrew Shennan runs the preterm labour clinic at Guy’s and St Thomas’, the largest of its kind in the world. He was the consultant obstetrician on hand at the time that ensured the safety of Jackson and his mother.
He says: “It is a rare treat to meet the babies we care for when they’ve grown up. Jackson is a fighter and has done exceptionally well.
“My profession often requires me to make some difficult decisions with life-changing consequences, seeing Jackson today reminds me why I do what I do.”