THE LIFE of ‘miracle baby’ Madeline Smith, of Hucknall, was hanging in the balance when she was born 12 weeks premature.
She wasn’t breathing when she came into the world and weighed just 1lb 6oz.
But thanks to the incredible skill of staff in the neo-natal unit at Nottingham City Hospital, the tot is on the mend.
Out of an incubator and at home with her parents, Matt Smith and Katie Taylor.
Now, to show his unstinting gratitude, Matt and some of his friends are to embark on a gruelling 369-mile bike-ride from Glasgow to Nottingham to raise money for the hospital.
“They saved my daughter’s life,” said Matt (25), of Wood Lane. “I don’t know how we will ever be able to repay the hospital.
“But the bike-ride will be a start.
“I can’t put into words how grateful we are. I’m only cycling a few hundred miles. If I could cycle the world, I would.
“It is incredible to think that Madeline was barely the size of my hand and it was 50-50 whether she would survive. It was a nightmare, an incredibly traumatic time.
“Now the future looks a lot more positive and we have the hospital, and especially the doctors and nurses, to thank for that. They were awesome.”
Matt will be joined on the ride by Katie’s brother, Matt Taylor, who is well-known locally as a former footballer with Linby Colliery Welfare.
In total, seven cyclists will take on the challenge, which will start in Glasgow on Tuesday June 7 and is likely to take five days. It will finish at the City Hospital on Hucknall Road.
n PLEASE TURN TO PAGE 2
The target is to cycle more than 60 miles a day, with the aim of raising £5,000 for vital equipment for the neo-natal unit.
“The staff work wonders at the hospital,” said Matt. “We want to provide a long-lasting gift that will help them to support countless babies like Madeline in the future.”
Madeline is Matt and Katie’s first child. Her birth date was predicted to be Monday December 20.
But Katie (30) became unwell and was taken into hospital for a check-up. Doctors discovered complications and decided to intervene. They delivered Madeline via an emergency Caesarean section on Sunday September 26.
The baby was immediately rushed to a specialist unit where she was kept in an incubator.
What followed were weeks described as a “rollercoaster of hell”, according to Matt.
It was almost a week before the couple could hold Madeline and after that, she needed an oxygen mask.
But as time went by and Madeline began to perk up, the family looked forward to the future.
There is still uncertainty because Madeline must undergo regular check-ups and uses oxygen to help her grow without expending too much energy. It is still unknown whether she will suffer any long-term effects of being born so early.
But for Matt and Katie, all they are concerned with is that then can now enjoy their time with their daughter.
Matt said: “Everything is looking positive. Our story makes a big change from all the doom and gloom in the world.”
As part of the charity bike-ride, Matt and the team will wear branded clothing provided by GPS Property Services.
They are also staging a fundraising night at The Empire, off Beardall Street in Hucknall. This is on Saturday April 9 (7 pm) when the room is being provided for free by Empire owner Richard Darrington.
The main draw will be an auction featuring sports memorablia, including a replica 1966 England World-Cup shirt signed by Geoff Hurst. They have already been given a signed photo of Olympic gold-medal cyclist Sir Chris Hoy.
Anyone who would like to support the bike-ride or sponsor the group should get in touch with Matt by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org or logging on atwww.justgiving.com/madelinesmith2010.