The first effects of the Covid-19 ‘baby boom’ are being felt, as premature babies enter neonatal intensive and special care units around New Zealand. The Neonatal Trust says the $68,496 raised by HELL's Unholy Donut campaign will enable them to support both these babies and parents, and the growing number of Kiwi families using their services every year.
Medical advancements mean babies born as early as 23 weeks can be saved, placing greater demand on the Neonatal Trust each year, which support babies and their families in hospital, and when they return home. Covid-19 has put additional stress on the Trust, as it lost more than $100,000 in funding due to cancelled fundraising events and strains on grant funding.
During September, HELL donated $2 from every Unholy Donut sold to the Trust. A total of 34,248 Unholy Donuts were eaten, raising $68,496.
Rachel Friend, Executive Director for the Neonatal Trust, says it's been a difficult year, but now she can rest easy.
"I was speechless when I found out the total. We've been determined not to let Covid-19 get in our way, and these funds will ensure that can happen, especially as we begin to help families who were pregnant and have delivered during the pandemic".
Each year, the Neonatal Trust helps 5,000 families. Covid-19 has placed additional stress on families with premature babies.
Kathryn and Chris welcomed twins Declan and Riley at 24 weeks old on March 3, 2020; however, Riley very sadly passed away on March 19, 2020. Declan is still in NICU and is getting stronger every day. Kathryn says the journey has been emotionally exhausting, especially in the early days of Lockdown.
"It has been horrible, although it was in the best interest of our baby to keep people away. The hardest part was Level 4, where my fiancé couldn't see our son for six weeks, who was fighting for his life each day. The Neonatal Trust has been amazing throughout our journey - they always have an ear to listen or a shoulder to cry on at times,".
The Neonatal Trust says it can take 8 – 12 months for parents to experience and feel the true impact of having a premature baby, and for families with babies born during Lockdown, it will be March 2021 before some of the long-term effects. For mums who have been pregnant during Covid-19 and deliver early, it adds an extra layer of complexity and stress.
Ben Cumming, CEO of HELL, says with more babies being saved, there is a greater need for equipment, expertise, and space in NICUs.