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Friday, May 6, 2011

'Horrific' event leads to survival kits for mums

'Horrific' event leads to survival kits for mums

Last updated 05:00 04/05/2011
A first-hand experience of the February earthquake has led to earthquake survival kits being put together for Christchurch families with premature babies.

Michael Meads, chief executive of the Neonatal Trust, was in Christchurch when the February 22 quake struck.

Seeing the impact on mothers with premature babies prompted the survival-kit initiative, he said.

"I ... was due to have a meeting with one of our volunteers [Emma Williams] when the earthquake hit.

"By the time I took her back to her home I had realised how underprepared people were after such a horrific event."

Meads said Williams was running low on milk formula and other essentials.

"Some people were without money, food or clothes and neonatal babies need their milk at the right times and at the right temperature."

The loss of electricity and damage to infrastructure was also a cause for concern, he said.

"Babies born prematurely are more susceptible to infection so a lack of sanitation can cause real problems."

Williams, 19, whose daughter was born almost three months premature, said a simple thing such as being able to heat milk would make "a huge difference".

"It's a great idea and I only wish I had had one in February," she said.

The $500 kits include enough supplies to last about two weeks, and include nappies, blankets, bottles and a steriliser as well as hand sanitiser, cooking equipment and a lantern.

The kits were funded by the New Zealand Communities Trust, which gave $15,000.

Meads said the 30 kits would be distributed to "neonatal graduates" or parents with babies who had recently been discharged from a neonatal unit.

Christchurch mother Anna King received the first earthquake survival kit.

King's daughter, Grace, was born on January 28, 14 weeks premature.

"She [Grace] was discharged from hospital the day of the quake and she seemed fine, but she became really ill again overnight."

King, 30, and Grace were flown to Wellington along with King's elderly grandmother, and Grace was admitted to a neonatal unit.

Despite not having time to pack properly, King said she was extremely grateful to leave Christchurch, and for the support they received in Wellington.

Grace was now in hospital in Christchurch, where she was still receiving oxygen.

"We'll find out [today] when the doctors think she can come home. It could be weeks away and she will have to be on oxygen at home but I can't wait until she's out of hospital," she said.

The earthquake survival kits provided peace of mind for families with premature babies, she said.

"I think they're just great. The best thing for me is the steriliser and the formula, because these are things you just can not do without."

She would feel much safer bringing Grace home knowing that she was prepared, King said.

- The Press

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