Jessica Shannon was born by emergency caesarean in 2018 when her mum, Rebecca, had two pregnancy complications, pre-eclampsia and HELLP (haemolysis, elevated liver enzyme levels, and low platelet levels). Combined, these complications were restricting Jessica’s growth and with Rebecca’s blood pressure so high the decision was made to transfer them from their local hospital in Huntingdon to Cambridge for the delivery.
Due to her prematurity Jessica was kept on the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) where she was later diagnosed with chronic lung disease. Jessica was put on a course of steroids as her lungs had not developed and also a ventilator to help her breathe.
As she grew a little stronger, Jessica also needed an urgent eye operation to save her sight which was successful. During her time in The Rosie Hospital in Cambridge, Rebecca and her husband, Lee, could always be by Jessica’s side as they were supported by Chestnut House. Chestnut House is The Sick Children’s Trust’s ‘Home from Home’ located just two floors below NICU and Jessica’s bedside.
After 16 weeks in hospital, Jessica was able to go home but kept on oxygen to help with her breathing. Now three years on she has been doing brilliantly and is she preparing to start nursery full time in September. Rebecca said:
“It’s amazing to see Jessica doing so well. She is a healthy three year old who is running around and playing, nothing holds her back. She hasn’t needed any further hospital stays or treatment and she has been completely signed off by her consultants. She has hit all of her milestones without any issues and just needs to wear glasses because of her laser eye surgery. Other than that she has been doing really well.
“Jessica has already had a little taste of nursery and she is really looking forward to going in four days a week in September. We were very excited but also nervous as we weren’t sure how she was going to react to being in a new place without us. This wasn’t a problem for Jessica however who shocked us all by running into nursery with barely a look back or goodbye to us! She is looking forward to making new friends and have lots of fun.
“Chestnut House became our ‘Home from Home’ for a month while Jessica was in hospital and it made such a difference to us. We can’t thank The Sick Children’s Trust enough for the support we received.”
The Sick Children’s Trust does not charge families to stay in one of its ten ‘Homes from Home’ across the country but it does cost the charity £30 to support a family for one night. Chestnut House Manager, Abi Abdel-aal, said:
“It’s wonderful to hear how well Jessica is now getting on since she left hospital and we wish her all the best when she starts nursery in September.