Baby born with no heartbeat helps other Sunderland children

Jill Aitken, of Hawarden Crescent, Sunderland, with daughter Jasmine Aitken-Burnikell who was born at just 24 weeks.
Jill Aitken, of Hawarden Crescent, Sunderland, with daughter Jasmine Aitken-Burnikell who was born at just 24 weeks.
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A BABY who has battled back to health after being born with no heartbeat is helping other critically ill newborns.

Jasmine Aiken-Burnikell’s fight for survival has inspired family and friends to raise money to help Sunderland Royal’s Neonatal Unit save more lives.

Copy pic of Jasmine Aitken-Burnikell who was born at just 24 weeks.

Copy pic of Jasmine Aitken-Burnikell who was born at just 24 weeks.

The eight-and-a-half-month-old from High Barnes still faces daily struggles after being born 14 weeks early – but mum Jill Aiken says it’s a miracle she’s here at all.

“As soon as she was born they took her straight away,” says the 38-year-old.

“She had to be resuscitated in front of me as soon as she was born because she was so critical. They couldn’t find a heartbeat for 14 minutes.

“I had had a miscarriage two months before I fell pregnant with Jasmine and I was terrified I was going to lose her.

“I asked a doctor if she would make it and he said he honestly didn’t know whether she would.”

Born at 26 weeks into her mum’s pregnancy after a five-day labour and weighing just 2lb 2oz, Jasmine was so poorly that she was four days old before Jill could hold her only child in her arms for the first time.

Jill, who gave birth on July 10, said: “She was so very fragile that she couldn’t be moved for the first few days, all she could do was hold my finger.

“When she was stronger I was able to hold her once a day and those moments were so precious.”

Specialists did all they could to keep Jasmine alive including an emergency blood transfusion when she was born and keeping her on respiratory support in the neonatal intensive care unit until she was 35 days old.

Doctors also kept a regular check on Jasmine’s tiny heart, as she was born with an open duct which eventually closed by itself without the need for surgery before what would have been her due date on October 18.

After spending the first 11 weeks of life in hospital, the youngster was finally well enough to go home but remains on oxygen to help with the chronic lung disease she has due to being born before her lungs could develop properly.

Now weighing 12lb 3oz, she is a daily miracle to her mum, dad Simon Burnikell and their friends and family.

So much so, that they have thrown themselves into fund-raising for the ward which saved her life.

“Without the neonatal unit, Jasmine would not be here,” says Jill, who is a support worker for the North East Autism Society.

“The work they do is amazing. If it hadn’t been for the technology they use and the fabulous work of the nurses and doctors, Jasmine would not have been here had she been born 10 years ago.

“The name Jasmine means gift from God, and we really think she is.”

Jasmine has inspired Humbledon Methodist Church to choose the unit as its charity for the year.

Her aunty Hannah Burnikell has also hosted a charity chest and back wax at The Chesters, which was mostly sponsored by staff at the Eye Infirmary, which raised £550 for the unit.

And mum Jill has been helping to raise donations for a raffle which will feature at the ward’s charity ball which is taking place tonight at the Roker Hotel.

The nurses themselves have arranged the ball to help fund the unit’s life-saving work.

Totally Tranquil, Martino’s and Collinson Jewellers are among those who have donated prizes

l Tickets for the Sunderland Neonatal Intensive Care Unit Charity Ball are £40 and include a four-course meal and entertainment.

For more information and tickets, contact Sunderland buddies is a mentoring group run by nurse Hayley Agnew for mums and dads of premature babies.