A north-east couple whose son died at just five days old have launched a fundraising drive to thank the “amazing” medics who cared for their baby boy.
Little Alfie Milne passed away in his parents’ arms at Aberdeen Maternity Hospital’s Neonatal Unit after being born three months premature.
Samantha Klinck and her fiance Ryan Milne, 39, will be running both the 10K Run Banchory next month and the Stonehaven Half Marathon in July in memory of Alfie.
The couple, who live in Inverurie, will be raising funds for the Friends of the Neonatal Unit in Aberdeen and the ARCHIE Foundation. Their family are also organising an afternoon tea to help raise money.
Alfie, who the couple called their “rainbow baby” after they suffered a miscarriage in April last year, had multiple complications from being born so early and from a difficult pregnancy, including organ failure, breathing issues and a bleed on the brain.
Samantha found out she was expecting Alfie in September and at eight weeks pregnant problems began and she was diagnosed with a haematoma.
She said: “Alfie’s difficult journey began when I started bleeding and from this moment on, Alfie had a battle on his tiny hands and certainly showed us what a fighter he was.”
Then, 18 weeks into the pregnancy, Samantha was diagnosed with a low-lying placenta and at 24 weeks she was admitted to hospital – where she would spend the next three weeks.
Alfie was born weighing 2.3 pounds on February 18 by emergency caesarean at 27 weeks and, to his parents’ relief, came out breathing on his own.
Samantha, 28, added: “Beating the odds and much to everyone’s surprise our little boy came out breathing and fighting. It was the happiest moment of our lives and Alfie’s journey in the neonatal unit began. Alfie’s first day looked positive even after such a complicated pregnancy.
“There were about five members of staff working on him. We felt on top of the world.”
Sadly Alfie’s health took a turn that night, and Samantha was awoken by a midwife and told she should call Ryan.
For the next few days, Samantha and Ryan spent all the time they could with their little boy, moving into a private bedroom so they could be close to him.
Samantha said: “On Thursday 21 we got some good news as his blood results came back slightly positive, but the doctor did say we might have to have a conversation at some point. We were still remaining optimistic.
“On Friday afternoon at 5.30pm, our worlds fell apart when the doctors advised there was no more they could do for our baby boy and we would have to make the decision when to turn off his life support.
“We spent Friday evening with Alfie surrounded by family telling him how much we all loved him. We slept beside Alfie in the unit for our first sleepover together as a family that would also be our last. At 4am on Saturday our beautiful baby boy passed away in our arms.”
Samantha praised the hospital staff for all they did to help Alfie.
She said: “We never imagined that we would be leaving the hospital without our baby and nothing can prepare you for this heartbreak.
“We are extremely thankful for the five days we got to spend with Alfie as the first four days he was awake, and although he couldn’t move his body he would move his eyes to look at us when we spoke. We are so thankful we got those moments with him. The staff are amazing.”
The couple, who both work in the oil industry, set a fundraising target of £1,500 – about the cost of caring for a baby in the neonatal unit for one day – however, it is now sitting at more than £3,000.
Samantha said: “If we can just help one other family, it will allow for something positive to come out of this. It would be great to raise the money for the five days that Alfie spent in there.
“I am amazed by the amount of people who have donated, even strangers or people I have never spoken to at work. It has been overwhelming. I would like to thank everyone who has donated.”
Kirsty Cox, chairwoman of Friends of the Neonatal Unit, said: “This support means the world, and will help us massively in making the Neonatal Unit stay that little bit easier for local families. This money will allow us to fund anything from specialist equipment, advanced staff training, additional mental health support, or even toys and books for older siblings.
“For Samantha and Ryan to choose to fundraise following their family’s stay speaks volumes for the dedicated staff at Aberdeen’s Neonatal Unit and the amazing job that they do. We can’t thank Samantha and Ryan enough, truly.”