The parents of a premature baby girl are facing an anxious wait to find out when she can be brought home to Fife.
Tiny Harper Kirk was delivered at just 27 weeks after mum Sophie faced an emergency dash from Kirkcaldy to Glasgow’s Princess Royal Maternity Hospital – where the only intensive care cot was available in Scotland.
Sophie explains she’d been diagnosed with placenta previa at 20 weeks and had begun to experience cramps.
When she noticed bleeding, on Thursday February 24, she was advised to go into Victoria Hospital’s Maternity Unit.
One cot available in Scotland
She says: “When I arrived it was so busy. There wasn’t a room available.
“Time passed, the pain was getting worse but there still wasn’t room.
“I waited three and a half hours before I got upstairs.”
Sophie was given a scan and told to prepare in case her baby came early.
“They came back and told me there’s only one cot available in Scotland and it’s in Glasgow.
“My heart dropped – all I could think was how long will it take? Will we make it in time?”
Sophie and husband Andrew – also parents to Louisa, 11 months, and two-year-old Mia – were put into an ambulance.
They were accompanied on the journey by a nurse with a resuscitation kit in case the baby had to be delivered en route.
“I was then taken to a birthing suite,” says Sophie. “I had an IV, bloods taken and examinations. A lovely midwife called Rebecca stayed by my side the whole time, she was fantastic.
‘I didn’t hear her cry’
“Before I was taken to theatre, the special baby doctors came in to explain to us the risk factors of having to deliver the baby this early.”
Brave Sophie then waited anxiously as the operation to deliver her baby was carried out.
“They were talking me through it and when they said ‘she’s here’ I waited, but didn’t hear her cry.
“I remember thinking, please God – and then she cried. I did a huge sigh of relief. It was so good to hear that cry.
“She’s such a fighter, it’s unbelievable.
“My dad says her middle name should be Precious because that’s what she is.
“They brought her over to see me, we got the chance for a photograph and then she was taken straight away to intensive care.”
Harper is continuing to do well, but doctors say she won’t be transferred back to Fife until an appropriate cot in intensive care becomes available and it’s safe to do so.
Sophie will be discharged after 10 days and worries Harper will be without her.
“I don’t know how I would feel if I had to leave her,” she explains.
“We live in Ballingry and don’t drive. So it would be three buses, two and a half hours. We just want to know why there aren’t enough beds.”
Dad Andrew adds: “We shouldn’t have to come to Glasgow and be away from our family because the Scottish Government won’t invest the money into Fife NHS.
“We deserve the same care in Fife for our children as Glasgow and Edinburgh get – we need a Fife Maternity hospital.”
Director of NHS Fife’s Acute Services, Claire Dobson, says they realise it’s worrying and stressful for families of babies born prematurely.
“We always do our utmost to provide as much support as we possibly can while these babies are in our care.
Caring for babies
“We want to ensure those babies born before 27 weeks have access to the highest possible quality of care, and that this can be provided as locally as possible.”
She adds that when demand is unusually high, babies are transferred to another specialist unit as part of a national arrangement.
And babies from other parts of Scotland are often cared for by the specialist unit in Fife.
A Scottish Government spokesperson adds neonatal cot capacity is monitored across Scotland on a daily basis.