Sheffield parents attend event to mark World Prematurity Day

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A couple whose two children survived being born more than eight weeks early will be joining other parents of premature babies for special events in Sheffield next week.

Fiona Brown and her partner John Byrne, from Crosspool, are bringing their daughter Niamh, aged three, and four-month-old son Conor to the Peace Gardens on Monday, where all 156 lights are being turned purple to mark World Prematurity Day.

At the same time, the water in the Peace Gardens fountains will also be turning purple - the colour of the Foundation for the Care of Newborn Infants.

The events start at 4pm and have been organised by Julie Bathie, senior sister at the Jessop maternity wing’s neonatal unit.

Julie has invited families supported by the unit to an evening of activities, including a candlelit vigil and a performance of songs from the Disney film Frozen by the Jessop wing choir.

Fiona, 33, suffered from pre-eclampsia during both of her pregnancies, which resulted in Niamh being born at 28 weeks weighing only 1lb 11oz, while Conor arrived at 29 weeks weighing just 2lb 1oz.

Both babies were unable to breathe for themselves, suffered from holes in the heart, chronic lung disease and fluid on the brain. They were both cared for at the maternity wing for over three months each.

Fiona said: “We just don’t take anything for granted now, both our babies survived the odds and although they still have their problems, they are here with us as a family. More babies like mine are surviving thanks to units like Sheffield’s and it’s important people are aware that premature birth is more common than they think.”