Dad faces extreme challenges for oxygen starved babies like Nancy

Nancy on a cooling machine. with parents, Joel and Julia Mildinhall and a staff nurse. Picture submitted
Nancy on a cooling machine. with parents, Joel and Julia Mildinhall and a staff nurse. Picture submitted

A devoted dad has vowed to help newborn babies by running up Mount Snowdon to funding vital ‘cooling machines’ that saved his own daughter.

Joel Mildinhall from Kenilworth will set out on the 20-mile endurance run - taking him to the top of the peak and back to raise £6,000 and save hundreds of lives.

Joel Mildinhall with his daughter, Nancy

Joel Mildinhall with his daughter, Nancy

The cash will help fund two ‘cooling machines’ for ambulances- a new technology used to ward off brain damage or even death for newborn babies deprived of oxygen at birth.

Joel explained that after his own daughter, Nancy was ‘saved’ by the breakthrough treatment, he wants to help make it more available for all.

Joel explained that he and his wife, Julia went into Warwick Hospital for the birth of their first baby 12 months ago.

Unexpected complications meant baby Nancy was born by Cesarian section and ended up being starved of oxygen for around 20 minutes - bringing her close to death and facing an uncertain future.

Within a few hours of birth the baby was transferred to a Wolverhampton hospital and underwent the treatment to bring her body temperature down for 72 hours.

She was then slowly rewarmed over a couple of days.

And thanks to the cooling treatment their daughter survived and one year on is showing no effects from the trauma.

“Nancy was extremely close to death, her lifeline was ripped from her after a placenta abruption,” said Joel.

“She was lifeless, pale, floppy and not breathing. The prognosis was not good.

“We were blessed to have this second chance to undergo this amazing treatment.”

Every year over 1,000 babies die or suffer brain damage as a result of lack of oxygen.

The idea is that by cooling the vital organs, the brain is able to recover and prevent further and lasting damage.

The treatment was only introduced in 2010, and can generally only be conducted on larger neonatal units within the first six hours of birth.

But the Kenilworth parents - who are both police officers with the West Midlands force - said the limited machines and time window means it is vital that the district’s two neo-natal ambulances are fitted out to offer the treatment.

The fact only larger hospitals offer the treatment, it is vital to reduce the critical time window and make sure travelling time is not wasted.

The committed dad will start his series of fundraising challenges with a Total Warrior race and gruelling Man vs Mountain in September.

He said despite being “completely new to such ludicrously difficult” tasks, it is all about getting big donations.

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What is cooling treatment?

- By cooling (a technique called therapeutic hypothermia) body and brain temperature, doctors can alter the chemical processes that lead to brain damage.

- As soon as possible after birth, the baby is cooled with a specially made cap or blanket.

- After about three days, the baby is gradually warmed again often with no lasting organ damage