Premature baby prompts Roald Dahl fundraising bonanza in Sheffield

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The proud mum of a premature baby boy who doctors said may never walk, has harnessed the power of some of Roald Dahl’s most famous literary characters to raise hundreds of pounds for Sheffield Hospitals Charity.

Rebekah Ridge, aged 29, from Wadsley, gave birth to son Tiffin five weeks early by emergency caesarean section, but complications meant he suffered brain damage and needed a full blood swap.

Rebekah said: “When I was 33 weeks pregnant, I became increasingly concerned that I wasn’t feeling much movement. I went to the Jessop Wing and they did some routine scans.

“The doctors noticed that Tiffin was very anaemic and discovered his white blood cells were killing the red cells. They said he was seriously unwell and needed to be delivered immediately or he wouldn’t live.

“He was delivered by emergency caesarean section at Jessop Wing, and then rushed to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, where he was given a full blood exchange and several platelet and blood transfusions.

It was hard to cope with, but as we had no other children we were grateful that we were able to spend all our time with him and to hold his hand through all of his procedures. I was also able to focus on expressing milk and feeding him via syringe so he had the best start in life.

“He was looked after incredibly well and had several scans, tests and medication. The MRI scan showed brain damage on both sides of his cerebellum - a region of the brain that plays an important role in motor control. This meant that he would be unlikely to walk, with the best case scenario being that he would walk aided by a frame.

“He proved us all wrong though and started walking at 14 months! We both prayed for him and were willing to accept any outcome. We have appreciated every single milestone, from opening his eyes, to him breathing by himself unaided.”

To thank all the staff who cared for Tiffin, Rebekah, who runs Hullabaloobell Events, arranged a ‘Roald Dahl Christmas Experience’, which saw well-loved characters including the BFG, The Twits, and James and the Giant Peach all make an appearance.

Book themed games were played, with the favourite being the ‘Bogtrotter Challenge’ where the local vicar, Rev Dan Brown finished his cake the quickest.

“The event was brilliant. It was an amazing atmosphere and after all that cake the Reverend looked a bit green by the end! We arranged the event to raise awareness of premature births and the complications that can occur as well as raising money for Sheffield Hospitals Charity to help other poorly babies like Tiffin and his friends.

“Doctors are still doing tests to determine his condition, but we are just so grateful that his little life has been saved,” said Rebekah.

Rebekah raised £1,300 for Sheffield Hospitals Charity. For fundraising ideas, please visit www.sheffieldhospitalscharity.org.uk, call 0114 271 1351, or email charity@shct.nhs.uk. Alternatively, to donate directly to Sheffield Hospitals Charity visit www.sheffieldhospitalscharity.org.uk/donate