Parents fundraise for neonatal unit that saved son's life

Olly Drury after he was born with tubes, and now happy and healthy at five months old

Olly Drury, now five months, was whisked away from his parents shortly after birth for resuscitation - Credit: Shaun Drury

A mum and dad from Harpenden are raising funds for life-saving neonatal equipment to thank the team that saved their new-born son's life.

Shaun and Laura Drury want to purchase machines that would mean that doctors at Luton and Dunstable Hospital's NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) wouldn't have to pause resuscitation when treating babies - like their son, Olly - after birth.

Unfortunately the hospital lacks the funds to buy this equipment, so the Drurys want to do their bit to help.

Olly, now five months old, had a rough start to life; after a normal labour, his body shut down after his fast delivery. Blue and lifeless, he was whisked onto a resuscitation table, where a machine took his first breaths for him.

Olly in the neonatal intensive care unit at Luton and Dunstable, with tubes and bandages

Shaun expressed how grateful he is to the staff at the neonatal intensive care unit at Luton and Dunstable Hospital for caring for Olly, even though his outlook looked bleak - Credit: Shaun Drury

After 15 minutes, Olly's chest raised - albeit shallowly - unaided for the first time, but a series of seizures followed. With cables and tubes supporting his body, he was cooled to prevent any further damage occurring to his brain.

Dad of three Shaun said: "The world stopped, really. You don't ever imagine that it's going to happen to you, and when it does, it's a surreal feeling."

Shaun told the Herts Ad that they are fundraising for equipment which will provide babies born into the world a better chance of survival: "When Olly was born, they had to use human intervention to see what output he was giving through his heartbeats and through his lungs and breathing. They had to pause his resuscitation each time and monitor him with a stethoscope."

Five-month-old Olly Drury in panda onesie

Now-happy five-month-old Olly Drury needed machines to help him take his first breaths, while doctors listened via a stethoscope to find a heartbeat - Credit: Shaun Drury

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The machines the Drury family are raising money to purchase were not available to Olly when he was born, which propelled the idea of the fundraiser. 

"The idea behind this is, these machines latch onto the baby's finger, and gives vital stats straight away, which means that [doctors] can concentrate on the more important things, and making sure they can bring them around without pausing resuscitation, and to make sure there is no starvation of oxygen to the brain."

Shaun said he and Laura "fell in love" with their consultant, Jean Egyepong, and wanted to do all they could to help his department and other families who rely on their expertise: "He was so reassuring, so I asked him what we could do to get some equipment into the ward. He showed me this patient monitor, which they've got one of in theatre [at L&D].

Picture of Drury siblings: five-month old Olly, five-year-old Theo and two-year-old Jack

Five-month-old Olly pictured with older brothers Theo, five and two-year old Jack - Credit: Shaun Drury

"He wants to get one into the resuscitation bag, which is the bag they used on Olly. He also wants to get two into the other theatres."

After four months of patiently waiting for the green light to fundraise for the hospital equipment, Shaun and Laura have now launched a JustGiving page. Setting out to raise the £24,000 needed to finance the machines, more than £12,000 has been raised in the seven days since the launch.

News of the fundraiser spread like wildfire between friends, family and work clients on WhatsApp, and has been shared on Facebook in the Harpenden Parents Network as well as my Bedfordshire NHS Charity Fund.

Shaun and Laura Drury

Shaun and Laura Drury have three sons: Theo, 5, Jack, 2, and five-month-old Olly - Credit: Shaun Drury

Shaun had planned on raising funds for the hospital and their equipment by taking part in an exhilarating skydive, but is banking that for now due to current coronavirus restrictions and in wake of the immediate success of the fundraising page. He hopes that people will continue to donate to the page.

"Even if it's a small amount, it doesn't matter. Every little bit helps. Whoever can donate, if they can share it and support it, that'd be brilliant."

"The reason at Luton is so important is because it's a Level 3 neonatal ward, which means that all the Watford, Lister... everybody who has a baby that's in dire straits, they get transferred to Luton and Dunstable.

"Even though by donating they're supporting Luton and Dunstable, they're actually supporting the rest of the hospitals around the south east, because every baby that's in a neonatal intensive care situation would get transferred to Luton."

To support the Drury family's fundraiser, visit their JustGiving page.