Arlo was born at 25 weeks gestation in December 2016, weighing just 755 grams (1.6lb). Because he was four months early, his mum Laura and dad Sammy knew that he would face an uphill struggle.

Tiny - but in his mum’s words ‘absolutely perfect’ – Arlo spent six weeks in neonatal intensive care at New Cross before our KIDS/NTS team transferred him back to Telford’s  neonatal unit. After five days his condition deteriorated rapidly and was placed on a ventilator. He was very seriously ill and in septic shock.

Doctors decided that he needed to be transferred to Birmingham Children’s Hospital but were unsure if he was well enough to survive the journey.  Our KIDS/NTS team was contacted for advice and it was agreed that they would transfer Arlo to Birmingham Children’s Hospital.

Emma and Mary members of the KIDS/NTS team arrived to transfer Arlo.  Laura stated that

They commanded the room. We felt like we were in expert hands – the other doctors and nurses seemed reassured by them being there too.”

Emma and Mary were so calm and so kind. They told us exactly what they were doing and promised that there would be no whispering. They’d tell us everything good or bad. And that’s exactly what we wanted.

Emma and Mary managed to stabilize Arlo and were eventually able to move him into a pod to transfer him.  Once at Birmingham Children’s Hospital, he remained critically unwell. He was diagnosed with Necrotizing Enterocolitis (NEC) - a devastating disease that affects the intestine of premature babies. The wall of the intestine is invaded by bacteria, which cause local infection and inflammation that can ultimately destroy the wall of the bowel. 

Five days after he was moved to our hospital and following a further deterioration in his condition, an X-ray revealed that Arlo’s small bowel had perforated.  Still weighing just 2lb, he underwent life-saving abdominal surgery (laparotomy) during which 15cm of his small bowel was removed. Surgeons also created a stoma (an opening on the surface of the abdomen which has been surgically created to divert the flow of faeces or urine).

Arlo remained on Paediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) at Birmingham Children’s Hospital for four days and was then transferred – again by KIDS/NTS team - to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Birmingham Women’s Hospital.

Arlo remained in the NICU at Birmingham Women’s Hospital where he was stable but still very poorly. He was on a ventilator and receiving the highest doses of antibiotics his little body could take as well as morphine. After 17 days of no improvement staff became very concerned about his condition and KIDS/NTS team were once again called to transfer him back to Birmingham Children’s Hospital. Laura said,

By this point we were well known by the KIDS/NTS team.They were absolutely wonderful and felt like friends. They were always so kind and reassuring but very professional and highly skilled. We were just so relieved to see them.

That same evening Arlo – still only nine weeks old (and not due to be born for almost another 2 months!) underwent further abdominal surgery.  After his operation the KIDS/NTS team transferred him back to the NICU at the Women’s Hospital once again, where he began to slowly recover – although he remained ventilated and nil-by-mouth, eventually coming off the ventilator one month after he first became unwell. 

Arlo celebrated his first 100 days and eventually his “due date” in Birmingham Women’s Hospital.  Finally after 3 months our KIDS/NTS team were called once again to transfer Arlo back to Telford – although he made a brief journey back to Birmingham Children’s Hospital at the beginning of May for eye surgery, again travelling there and back with KIDS/NTS team.

On 23 May 2017 after 154 days in hospital Arlo was finally able to go home with his mum and dad, where he could finally get to know his two big brothers Reuben (5) and Rowan (2).

Arlo will need further surgery to reverse his stoma and at the moment is still on oxygen at home. His experiences left him with some damage to his liver and eyes which are currently being kept under observation however he is developing well. Laura says,

Arlo simply would not be here without the care he received from across the NHS but particularly from the KIDS/NTS team. They were the absolute experts who got him to where he needed to be with the minimum fuss and the maximum skill. I cannot put into words what they mean to us but we will be grateful to them for the rest of our lives.