‘Thank you for saving our lives’ – Sunderland medics save sisters born prematurely, 13 years apart

Shannon Devine (13) (left) and Paula Hough (21) taking part in a sponsored wealk along the sea front  at Seaburn and Roker on Wednesday night in  aid of the Neo-natal unit at Sunderland Royal Hospital.

Shannon Devine (13) (left) and Paula Hough (21) taking part in a sponsored wealk along the sea front at Seaburn and Roker on Wednesday night in aid of the Neo-natal unit at Sunderland Royal Hospital.

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DEVOTED sister Shannon Devine is stepping out for the hospital unit which helped save her and her younger sibling.

Now a healthy 13-year-old, Shannon weighed just 4lbs 13oz when she born six weeks early.

She was cared for at Sunderland Royal Hospital’s Neo-natal Intensive Care Unit and is now helping to raise vital funds for the place, where her little sister Lily Barrow-Devine, who was also a premature baby, is being looked after.

The tiny tot weighed just 2lb 6.5oz when she was born 12 weeks before her due date, earlier this month.

Kind-hearted sister Shannon told mum Joanne that she wanted to do something to support the unit, which is one of only four of its kind in the region.

The Venerable Bede pupil, from Ryhope, dressed as a baby and walked from Seaburn to Roker with family friend Paula Hough, to raise hundreds of pounds.

Proud mum Joanne, whose partner is John Barrow, said: “We were talking about it and asked what we could do to help, and they said we could raise some money.

“I just wanted to say what a brilliant job all the staff do.

“They perform miracles in that place, and we can’t thank them enough for everything they are doing for Lily.”

Miracle baby Lily is now putting on weight, after undergoing a blood transfusion, and it is hoped she will be released from hospital in the next two week.

Doctors still don’t know what caused Joanne’s waters to break so early, but monitored her throughout her pregnancy with Lily, who still arrived much earlier than mum and medics were expecting.

Joanne, who is in her final year of a criminology degree at the University of Sunderland, added: “Shannon and her friends have managed to raise over £400 so far.

“We haven’t got an exact total yet as donations are still coming in.”

She thanked everyone who made a donation or has helped raise money for the unit.

She said: “Paula Hough, who also dressed up and got sponsored, is a close friend of the family and Shannon’s cousin Reece Robson heard about it the day before and wanted to help and joined with getting sponsors and the walk.”

City Hospitals Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust is taking part in a trials for a new drug, Opptimum, which could cut the number of premature births, which are the biggest cause of death and disability among babies born in the UK.

The trials, which involve hospitals across the country, end in 2015.

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