Leeds mums help spread festive cheer to miracle babies

SUPPORT:  From left, Mel Metcalfe (Bliss), Nicola Stuart (nursery nurse), Helen Jackson (Bliss), Nicola Mitchell (Sister) and Nicky Emsley (Bliss) (JH1001/78b). PIC: James Hardisty
SUPPORT: From left, Mel Metcalfe (Bliss), Nicola Stuart (nursery nurse), Helen Jackson (Bliss), Nicola Mitchell (Sister) and Nicky Emsley (Bliss) (JH1001/78b). PIC: James Hardisty
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Tiny Syed Atif Islam has spent the last four weeks fighting for survival.

The precious baby was born at 27 weeks and weighed just one pound and nine ounces.

His impromptu arrival came as a complete surprise to his devoted mum Aklema Begum.

The 30-year-old has spent the last four weeks by Syed’s bedside at Leeds General Infirmary hoping that one day she will be able to take him home to be reunited with his family.

Housewife Aklema said: “It was a complete surprise and very scary.

“I was discharged from hospital and was on my way home but my waters broke.

“I didn’t know how he would do because he came so early.”

Aklema is one of dozens of mums who have spent their Christmas on the specialist neo-natal unit this year.

But now she is looking forward to next year and longs for the day that her tiny son will be home.

Her son Akib Islam, 10, and daughter Isha Islam, five, are also looking forward to having their brother home.

She added: “We didn’t do much for Christmas and it has been tough on the family.

“He is going to be in for at least 13 to 15 weeks because we are trying to put some weight on him and get him bigger.

“I have seen two families go home and it makes you realise that one day I will be taking my baby home.

“The best gift for us will be getting him home next year.”

Mums from Leeds-based baby support charity Bliss handed out Christmas presents to mums and premature babies on the ward.

They handed out tiny socks, teddy bears, knitted hats and treats for mums who spent yesterday at the hospital.

The presents were donated from Bliss Leeds, The Gift Gallery in Otley and the Leeds Children’s Hospital Appeal.

Handing out the gifts was mum-of-four and Bliss Leeds champion Helen Jackson, 36, from Otley.

Her three-year-old son Thomas was born nine weeks early and spent weeks in hospital fighting for his life before he was allowed to return home.

Helen now offers support with a group of dedicated mums to help parents whose babies were born too small or too sick.

She said: “It means a lot to the mums and makes what is an unbearable time slightly more bearable.

“Coming back to the unit for me after what has been one of the most stressful times of my life is really rewarding.

“It’s nice to give something back.”


The Leeds support group of baby charity Bliss was set up two years ago.

Dedicated mums Nicky Emsley and Cally Albrecht founded the branch to provide support to parents after the pair gave birth to premature babies.

The group helps to support mums and families from across the region whose babies have been born too soon or too sick.

They meet at Guiseley Children’s Centre on the last Wednesday of every month between 1.30pm and 3.30pm.

For more information about the charity, visit: www.bliss.org.uk

Stephen Blake of the CMA  Photo: Vikki Ellis

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