MEET the toddler who is helping to put a smile on the faces of premature babies and their families this Christmas.
Megan Marsh was born 10 weeks prematurely on April 2011 at the Neonatal Unit in the Jessop Wing of the Royal Hallamshire Hospital, Sheffield.
After six hours in an incubator her parents, Phil and Caroline Marsh, of Shepley, were prepared for the worst.
But Megan fought back and proved medics wrong, returning home four weeks later.
Now the 20-month-old’s parents are giving something back to the unit which saved their daughter’s life.
Thanks to the creativity of their friend, Michelle Flood, babies at the hospital’s special care unit will be given a unique gift this Christmas.
Midwife Michelle, of Birkby, makes soft toys out of children’s socks. She has made 18 mini-monkeys and each one is named after the NHS staff who saved Megan’s life and the other premature babies she shared the unit with.
Caroline said it was their way of giving parents a gift during a difficult time and saying ‘thank you’ to the team at Jessop's.
Caroline, 33, also mother to five-year-old Molly, said: “We were given a blanket while Megan was in hospital which was just beautiful. It was something special for her to have and it was something we could keep of her time at Jessop’s.
“We’re now giving these soft monkeys to the children and their parents and hope in the future they will do something for other children too.”
Caroline’s pregnancy troubles began at 23 weeks when her waters broke.
At 27 weeks she haemorrhaged and then at 32 weeks she went into premature labour.
Megan was born by emergency caesarian section on April 28, 2011 and rushed off to be incubated – it was six hours before her parents could see her as her lungs were underdeveloped.
To this day Phil and Caroline don’t know Megan’s birth weight. Her weight with all the tubes in was 4lbs 3oz and doctors think she was in the mid-3lbs.
Caroline, a beauty therapist and bridal make-up specialist based above Hairs and Graces in Slaithwaite, said: “Megan was in intensive care for 10 days and I was actually frightened when they moved her out because she then had to do it all herself.”
Megan spent eight days in the High Dependency Unit, then moved into the special care baby unit and other rooms for supervision.
Caroline says the support of the staff throughout was amazing.
“The whole unit was full to capacity when Megan was there,’’ she said.
“The staff were run off their feet, but they couldn’t have done any more for us. They were just amazing.
“That’s why we wanted to name Michelle’s mini-monkeys after the people who saved Megan’s life and shared her journey home.
“The consultant, Dr Alan Gibson, joked that he was keeping the ‘Alan monkey’, but it’s nice the babies will get their own monkey.”
Mum-of-two Michelle makes soft toys as a hobby in addition to being a midwife in Halifax.
She said: “It’s nice to be able to do something to help and I hope they get some enjoyment out of it and treasure it too.
“Sadly, some children don’t make it and we hope it will be something their parents can treasure.”
Phil and Caroline continue to raise funds for the unit. Phil has twice run the Sheffield 10k with Caroline joining him in October.
Caroline’s mum, Susan Cornish, made 18 quilted blankets – one for every bed in the unit – which were donated. And Caroline will today take Megan back to the unit to deliver a pre-Christmas treat for staff.