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Mum's marathon effort for unit that treated daughter and made family feel at home

Image shows a family standing in front of the sea

A mum of four has gone the extra mile for the Swansea Bay service that provided specialist intensive care to her prematurely-born daughter.

Catrin Mullett was born over seven weeks early at the Princess of Wales Hospital in Bridgend in 2019 but was transferred to Singleton Hospital within 48 hours after suffering a punctured lung and breathing difficulties.

Image shows a family holding a baby Catrin was treated in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) for eight days before being allowed to go home.

Despite it being a stressful and emotionally-draining time, the efforts of the NICU staff and facilities within the service left its mark on parents Claire and Michael.

PICTURED: The Mullett family with Catrin just days after she was born.

They were able to stay in NICU’s on-site accommodation - equipped with a bed and bathroom facilities - that allows parents to rest and be close to their baby when they are receiving specialist care.

As Catrin nears her fourth birthday, Claire wanted to mark the celebration by raising money for the unit and help modernising its accommodation, which consists of two separate bedrooms within NICU, another two on the Special Care Baby Unit and five houses in the accommodation block which is a short distance from NICU.

Claire said: “Catrin was born prematurely at 32 weeks and five days, but we had to be transferred to Singleton very soon after due to her difficulties.

“It was a really stressful time, but the level of care was just incredible. The doctors and nurses were available 24/7, which was fantastic as we didn’t have to wait for anything to be done.

“I was still recovering from my C-section and on medication, so having the accommodation available on that first night was a lifesaver for me.

“Being just down the hall from Catrin was so reassuring. We were lucky in that we live fairly locally, but I can imagine how vital it would be for families who live further away.

Image shows a toddler “I felt completely supported as a parent by the staff and knew that I could ring the unit at any time and someone on the other end of the phone would update me on Catrin’s health.

PICTURED: Catrin Mullett is looking forward to her fourth birthday in November.

“I remember the night we stayed in the accommodation, I couldn’t sleep so I walked down to Catrin’s cubicle at around 2am where the on-duty nurse chatted for about an hour helping me understand what was going on, the treatment being given to Catrin and what observations had been made. It really helped put me at ease.”

The NICU Accommodation Fund is one of hundreds of individual funds that come under the umbrella of Swansea Bay Health Charity.

This is the health board’s official charity. Money raised is used for equipment, staff training, research and special projects for the benefit of our patients and staff, above and beyond what the NHS can provide.

Claire raised almost £300 for the NICU Accommodation Fund by running the Cardiff Half Marathon, and that money will be put towards refurbishing the rooms and houses used by parents of babies being treated in the unit.

Helen James, NICU Matron, said: “I am very touched by Claire’s kindness and generosity in raising this money for the neonatal unit at Singleton.

“It is always lovely to have feedback from parents. Catrin is a beautiful child and a credit to Claire and Michael.

“We are currently in the process of renovating five neonatal accommodation houses that we offer families who live a distance away, so they can remain close to their newborn.

Image shows a woman holding a medal “The parent accommodation is a valuable resource for families following an unexpected early birth of their newborn, during a time of upheaval and disruption whilst their pre-term baby is cared for by specialists within NICU. Providing suitable accommodation for our parents has a direct impact on the emotional wellbeing and mental health of the parents, thus impacting the wellbeing and development of the baby.

“The money that has been generously given will be used towards this project.”

PICTURED: Claire Mullett with her medal after completing the Cardiff Half Marathon.

Catrin is now looking forward to spending her fourth birthday with her mum, dad Michael, sister Megan and brothers Joseph and Matthew at their home in Llanharan.

It is another milestone for Catrin, while for Claire it’s a reminder of far her daughter has come since being born.

Claire said: “Catrin is absolutely thriving. She has an inhaler, which she uses when she needs to, but other than that she is an active three-year-old.

“It just highlights how important the high level of care was for Catrin, and the fact we could be close to her.

“It’s so important for parents to be near their children in that first part of life.

“We only stayed in the NICU Accommodation for the first night as we knew there were other families coming from further away who would be in greater need of the rooms which provide the security of knowing they don’t have to leave their little one far behind at what is potentially the scariest time.

“So we owe the unit a lot as a family, and that’s why I wanted to raise money for the accommodation fund.

“Without the help of NICU, our life as a family could have been very, very different.”

If this story has inspired you to raise funds for your local NHS then Swansea Bay Health Charity would love to hear from you.

Email the charity team at:

Swansea Bay Health Charity (registered charity number 1122805) is the official charity of Swansea Bay University Health Board.

It plays a vital role in raising money for projects and activities that support patients, whilst it also supports a range of projects to improve the working conditions and support available to staff. 

Nearly all wards and departments have their own fund, which all come under the Swansea Bay Health Charity umbrella.

So if someone wants to give something back for the care they or a loved one has received, the charity ensures the funds raised will go directly there.

The charity does not replace NHS funding but uses generations donations received from patients, their families, staff and local communities to provide above and beyond what they NHS can provide.

To find out more, follow this link to the Swansea Bay Health Charity website.

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