Our son, Owen Mark Blackburn, was delivered by emergency caesarian section on June 25th weighing just 1lb 10oz.

preemie, premature baby, the ickle pickles

Within days of his premature birth, Owen made history when he became the first baby to arrive on the new Intensive Care Baby Unit at Queen Alexandra Hospital in Portsmouth. An event that was captured by local TV and other news media.

Thanks to the highly specialised 24 hour care provided by the staff on the unit, Owen made steady progress despite being diagnosed with a congenital heart defect, which would require surgery at a later date.

Owen bravely battled on as we kept a constant vigil at his side.After some 2 months of improvement which saw Owen grow into the little boy pictured above, plans were being made to bring him home. He would require an oxygen supply, continued round-the-clock care and family and friends would need to be trained to give resuscitation, but Owen was moving ever closer to leaving hospital and coming home to his Mummy and Daddy.

parents of premature babies. preemies, Ickle Pickles, Lorraine Blackburn

In an unexpected turn of events, Owen was moved from Portsmouth to Southampton General Hospital in early September 2009 where further tests were carried out on his heart. During his time in Southampton, it was discovered that Owen had stage two disease in his eyes and he was transferred the short distance to The Princess Anne Hospital in order to undergo immediate surgery to save his eyesight. As always, we remained at his side and the operation was a success.

Following his eye surgery, Owen remained at The Princess Anne Hospital to complete his recovery in preparation for his return to Portsmouth.

On Monday September 21st Owen’s health had suddenly deteriorated and we hurried to be by his side. Owen was back on a ventilator and had stopped breathing, but doctors were able to revive him and he was rushed in to surgery for an emergency operation. After just 20 minutes in the operating theatre, it was discovered that Owen’s lower organs were dying due to a blockage in a main artery which had starved his liver and bowel of blood and oxygen.

Just as had been the case with his birth, Owen’s brave battle for life was coming to a premature end.

In September 2009, we received a phone call at 7.30am advising us that things were not looking good.

Owen passed away in his Mummy’s arms just 12 weeks and 4 days since his birth.

Though our time with Owen was short, had it not been for the love and care provided by the special units in both Portsmouth and Southampton, we might not have had the time we did with our beautiful little boy.

It is for this reason that we, Owen’s parents, are committed to ensuring that these units receive our continued support so that others are able to benefit from the same high standard of care our son received.

Therefore I have become a fundraiser and ambassador with the charity Ickle Pickles. Ickle Pickles is a children’s charity which is dedicated to raising funds for life-saving equipment in neonatal units for sick and premature babies.

To date, I have raised over £150,000 pounds for Ickle Pickles and by organising events in my local area and also coordinating with businesses and individuals who want to support the Ickle Pickles. All the money raised goes directly to Neonatal Units to raise life saving equipment such as ventilators and incubators. I have also set up a regular coffee morning for other parents of premature babies – knowing someone else who has been through the premature journey is priceless.

I decided to use my experience with Owen to turn it into a passion to fundraise to help other families with premature babies. Knowing that his memory lives on within my work spurs me on to keep on fundraising. A particular highlight of my work was donating equipment to Queen Alexandra’s in Portsmouth with plaques bearing Owen’s name.

Ickle Pickles, Lorraine Blackburn,

I am delighted on how well we have been received in the local area, I was particularly proud to be awarded Women of Courage by the Portsmouth News. My passion for the Ickles Pickles isn’t going away any time soon, and I will continue to help others to raise funds knowing that the littlest and sickest babies both locally and nationally will benefit hugely.

If you would like to find out more about the charity please visit Ickle Pickles