Aiden comes home to Braes

Colin and Sandra Neilson with baby Aiden

Colin and Sandra Neilson with baby Aiden

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Grateful parents praised the caring staff who looked after their frail baby as he clung to life.

Little Aiden Neilson weighed just 2lbs when he was born 14 weeks premature.

Mum and dad, Sandra and Colin, spent anxious weeks by his side in the neonatal unit at Forth Valley Royal Hospital in Larbert as the tiny tot battled to survive.

They said the devoted medical team who looked after him were “angels”.

Aiden was eventually allowed home three days before Christmas to join big brother Aarron Grant (11) in celebrations the parents feared they might never see.

This week, Sandra (33) said the family can’t thank enough the staff who look after the hospital’s tiniest patients.

Speaking from their home in Limerigg, she said: “The support we had and are still receiving is amazing. When you hear people moaning about the NHS I just want to tell them how lucky we are to have such a fantastic hospital here.”

Sandra, a nursery nurse at Carronbank nursery in Carronshore, was expecting her second baby to arrive around December 16, but in early September it became clear Aiden was in a hurry to make his appearance.

She said: “My waters broke on the Monday and I was admitted to hospital for monitoring. But overnight on the Wednesday I went into labour and Aiden was born at 9.45 a.m. on September 8.

“He was breech and was born in the amniotic sac. He also has two holes in his heart and is still on oxygen but they hope these will close or he will have to have surgery when he is 18 months. But he now weighs 9lb 12.5oz and is doing very well.”

Sandra and Colin (40), who works for freight firm WH Malcolm, had 16 weeks of daily visiting the state-of-the-art hospital which was officially opened by HM The Queen in July.

Sandra added: “From the labour room to the neonatal unit, all the nurses were very supportive. There were some really tough times when we didn’t think he was going to make it. Although they never gave you false hope, they were always there for you.

“One day Colin said: ‘Everyone in here is an angel. They’ve been sent with a purpose to do this job, they are totally dedicated’.

“We’re still getting support from our health visitor and the community respiratory nurse who visit weekly.”

Anne Vallance, senior sister in the neonatal unit at Forth Valley Royal Hospital, said: “All of our staff attend work each day hoping to make a difference.

“Having a baby in the neonatal unit can be a very emotionally draining time for the parents. Staff strive to help parents by keeping them well informed about their baby’s condition as well providing emotional support.

“It is therefore exceptionally rewarding to staff when parents say that their experience has been positive.”

Around 80,000 babies are born prematurely in the UK each year and around half need to be treated in intensive care.