Publish date: 19 February 2024

A mother has written a book about her experience of having a premature baby cared for in the neonatal unit at UCLH.

Emma and Sophie 2022.jpg
Photo credit: Georgina Edwards Photography

Emma Innes has penned ‘In their hands’ a ‘one long and heartfelt thank you letter to the NHS’ after her baby daughter Sophie spent three weeks in the neonatal unit.

After a straightforward pregnancy, Sophie was born with several complications including sepsis, hypoxic-ischaemic encephalopathy (HIE) - brain damage caused by oxygen deprivation - severe meconium aspiration syndrome and persistent pulmonary hypertension of the neonate (PPHN), a potentially fatal condition that stops a baby breathing effectively.

After being transferred to UCLH, Emma recalls that ‘For ten days Sophie’s life hung in the balance. She was too unstable to be held or even to have her nappy changed; the slightest interference would cause her vital statistics to go haywire’ and describes ‘a perpetual hell of uncertainty; we had no idea whether our baby would live, whether we would ever take her home, and what her life might look like.”

After three weeks in the neonatal unit and subsequent detailed testing and follow up, Sophie suffered no long-term damage.

Emma and husband Jamie remain “in awe of the skill, kindness and dedication of Dr Giles Kendall and every single one of his colleagues who helped to save Sophie’s life. We will never forget that without them we would not have had the privilege of getting to know this precious little girl”.

They describe the book as “an expression of our love for our daughter and our gratitude to those miracle workers who enabled us to keep her”.

Sophie – pictured above with Emma – is now eight years old.

‘In their hands’ is available from Waterstone’s and Amazon. Proceeds go to the UCLH Charity ‘Early Lives’ fund, a discretionary fund supporting the neonatal unit at UCLH.