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Monday, November 12, 2018

Video service provides vital link to babies for parents

Max Darling and Lewis Beedie are both happy, curious and busy little boys.
They are thriving now, but the toddlers spent their first days of life in King Edward Memorial Hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit with their anxious parents watching over them.
For Scott and Joanne Beedie and West Coast star Jack Darling and his wife Courtney, the hardest part about having a premature baby in the intensive care unit was tearing themselves away at night to go home.
“I felt like I was leaving a limb behind every day,” Mrs Darling said of the almost two weeks Max, now 17 months, spent in intensive care after he arrived seven weeks early.
“It’s the most unnatural feeling, you want to be with them all the time, so it’s heartbreaking to leave them.”
To ease this pain for other families, the Darlings are helping local charity Helping Little Hands fundraise for a live-streaming service which will allow parents of very premature babies in the intensive care unit to check in on them from home.
Lewis, now 21/2, spent 121/2 weeks in intensive care after his birth at just 27 weeks.
Lewis’ twin brother, Logan, died in utero at 22 weeks after they were diagnosed with twin-to-twin transfer syndrome, which occurs when identical twins have a shared placenta and connecting arteries.
Mrs Beedie described the first three months of Lewis’ life as a roller-coaster. Family members visited from Scotland to help out with elder son Archie and provide much-needed food and support for the exhausted parents.
Their experience prompted the couple and their friend Kate Crassweller, who also had a baby in the neonatal intensive care unit, to set up Helping Little Hands.
They drop off food and supplies at KEMH and Perth Children’s Hospital and organise regular wellbeing events.
“It’s about who is looking after you, so you can look after your baby,” Mrs Beedie said.
The next goal is the group’s biggest yet — raising at least $115,000 to set up cameras on 32 intensive-care cribs to provide a live-stream to parents when they are away from the hospital.
“It’s all encrypted and mum and dad can log in to see baby at any time of day,” Mrs Beedie said. “At the moment you can call in and talk to the nurses, but just to be able to see your baby — the bonding aspect is huge.
“It also helps if you’ve got other children at home who aren’t able to visit.”
Darling and other well-known West Australians will take part in a “jail and bail” fundraiser at Optus Stadium on November 22, with each to be mock-arrested and required to fundraise a certain amount to be released.
Darling said the live-stream service would make a big difference to many families.
“You worry about (your baby), it is all you think about,” he said. “I lost quite a few kilos during that time due to stress.
“We would wake up in the night and call the nurses ... but being able to see them would take some of that stress away.”
Darling is enjoying his off-season after the Eagles won the AFL premiership. He and Courtney are due to welcome their second child in January.