Helping families deal with stillbirth trauma

Families left traumatised by the birth of a stillborn baby have been thrown a lifeline of support.

Kirsty McGurrell, of Houghton, was devastated when her first child, Louis, was stillborn 12 days before his due date last December.

Now the 21-year-old is reaching out to other mums with the creation of the 4Louis charity, which is providing hospitals with keepsake boxes for families to take home with them.

After reading about the charity in the Echo, staff at Sunderland Royal Hospital's Neo-natal Unit asked for 30 of the boxes, which contain items such as a moulding kit for a baby's hands and feet, a candle, a guardian angel figure and teddies, to help families through their trauma.

Kirsty's gesture has struck a chord with hundreds of families affected by stillbirth, and since the Echo first featured her story she has seen a massive surge of interest.

Kirsty, who hand makes the boxes with mum Tracey, said: "It is unbelievable how many people have come forward to fund-raise and to find out about the boxes.

"We have had an email from a lady in Doncaster asking if we can supply her hospital too.

"Stillbirth seems to be a taboo subject, but 4Louis has become like a support group for families.

"We get a lot of emails from people saying they wish they had the keepsake boxes in their hospitals."

Tracey added: "The support we have had shows how something so small can mean so much."

About eight babies a year are stillborn at Sunderland Royal Hospital, and there are 17 stillbirths a day across the UK.

The idea behind Kirsty's boxes is that families, who often spend just a few hours with a stillborn baby, can take home a permanent reminder of their child.

The charity has inspired scores of businesses and individuals to fund-raise, including Ikea, which has donated boxes, and The Galleries shopping centre, Washington, which will host a tombola on May 22.

Children at Highfield Primary School, in Ford Estate, Sunderland, have also been fund-raising.

To learn more about 4Louis, search 4Louis on Facebook groups or log on to www.4louis.webs.com.