Betty Batt’s battle to survive began the moment she was born. Betty came into the world over 4 months early and weighed only 650 grams. She was very fragile and very sick. Because of her extreme prematurity she needed neonatal intensive care at Liverpool Women’s Hospital where her immature lungs were supported by a ventilator.
Betty was so poorly that her bowel perforated in two places. She was now critically ill and was whisked over to Alder Hey by ambulance for emergency surgery; the first of many such visits. Sections of Betty’s bowels were removed, but because she was so unwell it was not safe to join the bowel back together. This meant that Betty had stomas formed (the bowel ends being brought out on the surface of the stomach).
Betty had a rocky time after surgery. She suffered many infections, and her times off the ventilator never seemed to last long. She needed intravenous feed directly into her bloodstream and couldn’t even have specialised premature baby milk. Betty’s family began to lose count of how many blood transfusions, blood cultures and lumbar punctures Betty had. Her liver was affected badly by the intravenous feeds, so even though she was still very small she came back to Alder Hey for an operation to reverse her stomas and join her bowel back together.
But Betty’s struggle didn’t end there. On 1st February 2018 Betty left her little ‘home’ and Liverpool Women’s NICU family (amazing nurses, doctors and friends), to begin the next stage of her journey at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital. A couple of weeks later and Betty was rushed to theatre for an emergency tracheostomy after she suddenly stopped breathing. Betty astounded her parents yet again and bounced right back.
Determined to reunite their family and bring Betty home to be with her brother and sister, Stanley and Martha, Betty’s parents, helped by the dedicated team of professionals at Alder Hey, trained as quickly as they could to have the knowledge and skills to deal with her tracheostomy and other medical needs.
Betty finally went home for the first time after 13 months in hospital. Betty’s dad, Phil, said “Betty is just amazing. She is the most delightful, placid and brave little girl. A nurse once said to us, ‘Betty brings out the best in people’.
The new enhancements to the neonatal ward aim to make Alder Hey feel like a home from home for families like Bettie’s who have to spend a lot of time at Alder Hey. Being close to your new-born in an environment you feel comfortable in, is really important for bonding and making a new baby feel safe. This in turn helps with their recovery.
Phil continued “Betty’s journey will continue and the remarkable NHS that saved her countless times will continue on this road with her. Betty is our little miracle and no matter what comes we will all continue to love her with everything we have and with utter joy and immense gratitude to those that never gave up on her and gave us this most precious gift .....”