St Oswald’s Hospice, based in Gosforth, has received a special gift of a ‘cuddle cot’ which will be used to give families extra time with their loved one after a baby or toddler has died.

Local family, Sam and Sophie Dennis, from Heaton, visited St Oswald’s to donate the cuddle cot, which is a specialist piece of equipment designed to keep a baby cool to allow parents to spend up to 72 hours with their child after they have died.

The couple benefitted from the use of a cuddle cot when their daughter, Autumn, died in hospital two hours after birth in October 2017. The family has been fundraising with local charity 4Louis, based in Washington, who support anyone affected by miscarriage, stillbirth and the death of a baby or child.

Sam and Sophie visited St Oswald’s to donate the cuddle cot, Sophie said:

“Our baby Autumn was 22 weeks and 6 days old when she was born and it was thought she wouldn’t survive birth. She lived for two hours but without the cuddle cot we wouldn’t have had the precious time we spent with her in the hours after.

“We felt privileged to have the cuddle cot, and it was really comforting in a very sad situation. Straight away Sam and I decided that we wanted to give back and fundraise to help other people.”

Sam added:

“Sophie was in hospital for three days, but if it wasn’t for the cuddle cot, she would have just been sent home. No parent should have to go through that. We want to help local families, which is why we have fundraised for the cuddle cot and decided to donate it to a local charity, so that it benefits families in the North East.”

Kirsty McGurrell, Founder of 4Louis, said: “The cuddle cot is a machine that goes inside a Moses basket and it’s all about being less clinical. For parents, the time with their baby is priceless – it gives families time to come to terms with what’s happening.  Coming to St Oswald’s today with Sam and Sophie shows us that the work we do really makes a difference to families.”

Jocelyn Thompson, Children and Young Adults Service Manager at St Oswald’s, said: “This kind of donation from Sam and Sophie is gratefully and humbly received. The donation has come at the perfect time for us as our old cuddle cot has just broken so I am positive that the donation will help provide a little bit of comfort at these difficult times.”

St Oswald’s Children and Young Adults Service provides short breaks for children with life-shortening conditions from across the region, plus support for families. St Oswald’s can also provide care for babies, children and young adults who are at the end of their lives.