Special cot helps grieving parents make memories

Monday 29 July 2019

Abi Cot

Families who suffer the tragedy of stillbirth will be able to spend precious time with their baby thanks to two new ‘cold cots’ at St Thomas' Hospital.

Keeping the baby at a cooler temperature means the child can stay with their parents for longer, giving families the chance to grieve and say goodbye in their own time.

Donated by stillbirth bereavement charity Abigail's Footsteps, the Abi Cots contain a cooling unit and can be used when a baby has died after being born prematurely or is stillborn.

Around 15 babies die before, during or soon after birth every day in the UK.

The cots were bought with funds raised by the family and friends of two stillborn babies and each bear a plaque with their name. They were both represented at a special event to officially hand them over at St Thomas’ Hospital.

Tara and Saminder Matharu, from Slough in Berkshire, lost their baby girl to stillbirth in January at Wexham Park Hospital, where they used an Abi Cot.

Tara said: “After our daughter Mimi died lots of people felt they wanted to do something to help us. Rather than send flowers to the funeral they sent donations and it seemed like the perfect thing to do, given that we had some very precious days with Mimi thanks to the cold cot.

“It seemed a very fitting tribute to be able to, in such awful circumstances, give other families the chance to have that time with their babies that maybe they wouldn’t if the hospitals didn’t have the Abi Cot.”

Vicky Smart, from Sittingbourne in Kent, fulfilled a promise to her stillborn granddaughter Isabella-Rose by skydiving to raise money to buy a cold cot.

Vicky, who was there for the birth in July 2018 at Medway Maritime Hospital, said: “We had the privilege of using an Abi Cot. They are such valuable pieces of equipment that hospitals need.

“When I held Isabella for the first time, I promised her that I would raise money to fund a cold cot, so that other families would be able to make the memories that we have. I also wanted to do something that would have Isabella’s name on it so that her memory would live on.”

Vicky completed the skydive with her friend, Kerry Parnell, despite being scared of heights. She added: “The Abi Cot meant we could spend more time with Isabella, so people could come and meet her.

“It gave my son Luke and his partner Lindsay a chance to make memories and help with the grieving process.”

The cots will be used in the Butterfly Bereavement Suite that offers parents a safe and comfortable space to spend time with their baby and receive visits from family and friends.

Maxine Spencer, director of midwifery at Guy’s and St Thomas’, said: “These cots make a really big difference. They enable the parents to keep their baby nearby with them and gives families an opportunity to make memories, despite the sad circumstances.

“It was really special to meet Mimi and Isabella’s families and we’re incredibly grateful to them for what they have done.”

Abigail’s Footsteps was founded by parents Jo and David Ward following the death of their daughter Abigail Ward who was stillborn at 41 weeks.

The Abi Cot is produced by The Bond Group who are based in Sheerness, Kent.

Saminder has now enlisted the help of his work colleagues to raise money to buy another cot for a hospital in need. Help them reach their fundraising target.

Last updated: July 2019

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