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Grateful mum says thanks with the challenge of a lifetime
12 September 2017

Doctors and nurses at Ipswich Hospital can now gain hands-on experience of treating premature babies thanks to the generosity of a grateful mother who took on the challenge of a lifetime to thank staff for the care they gave her daughter.

Inge Van Tuinen–Nijkamp raised £10,539 for the hospital’s Sunrise Appeal, run by the Ipswich Hospital Charity, after completing the world famous Marathon des Sables in April. The money has been spent on a “sim baby” – a lifelike simulator of a baby born at 27 weeks which is controlled remotely using computer software and is used to train staff to diagnose and treat a wide range of conditions.

Inge, who only started running in late 2013, took on the epic 153-mile challenge to thank the hospital for the care her daughter Emma, now seven, received after she was born 12 weeks prematurely following a pregnancy complication. The race saw her run in extreme heat for six days, covering distances of between 23 and 53 miles each day while carrying her own clothes, stove, food and supplies in a backpack.

“The ward is so special for my family and the staff were absolutely amazing and did a fantastic job with our daughter’s care,” said Inge, who is 35 and lives in Woodbridge. “Emma weighed just 1.13lbs and didn’t even measure 30cms when she was born. But after three months, she had flourished and grown and we were able to take her home.

“It was at that point that I decided I wanted to give something back, then someone mentioned the Marathon des Stables. It seemed like the ultimate challenge and chance to go on a personal journey, as well as an ideal opportunity to support the hospital.

“I’m so proud that the money I raised has been used to buy the simulator. It is exactly the same size as Emma was when she was born, and will be really helpful for training nurses and doctors as well as building confidence in parents.

“My husband Liam also feels proud and happy to have been able to support this challenge, and it touched his heart to see the premature baby simulator on the ward. We both feel privileged to be able to help.

“It was also lovely to go back to the neonatal unit with Emma, as a lot of the same staff who cared for her were still there and were really pleased to see how well she is doing.”

The Sunrise Appeal was launched in December 2014, and has since raised around £150,000 to transform the lives of more than 500 neonatal babies, 3,500 young inpatients and 10,000 outpatients who are cared for by the hospital every year.

Sheila Gauld, neonatal unit ward sister, said: “We are very grateful to Inge for taking on this amazing challenge to raise money for our ward. The sim baby will make a real difference by helping to train our doctors and nurses to diagnose and treat a wide range of conditions so that they can provide the safest, most effective care for our young patients.”

To find out more about supporting the Ipswich Hospital Charity, call 01473 702929 or visit www.ipswichhospitalcharity.co.uk

To donate to Inge’s fundraising, visit https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Inge-Mission-marathondessables