It’s been a turbulent few years for me professionally and personally. Having built great programmes at the University of Edinburgh with Informatics Ventures, EIE and at the Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation, in January 2014 we relocated to Auckland, New Zealand, for my wife’s international fellowship as an orthopaedic surgeon. Fast forward to February 2015 and life was perfect. Sarah got a permanent Consultant post with NHS Fife, we sold our house in Edinburgh, we were having a fab new eco-house built in an idyllic part of the country and after six years of trying we had a baby on the way. I had taken on a job as Interim Head of Business Development at The Data Lab too, so everything was coming together.
On 4th May 2015 at our twenty week scan, we were given the devastating news that our baby had a very serious congenital heart condition. Basically missing two of her four heart chambers along with some other complications. Half a heart. On 14th September 2015 Sophie Emily Mitchell was born, induced at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow so that she could be immediately transferred to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit; and Scotland’s only Neonatal Cardiac Surgery team.
Sophie fought a hard fight and had seven surgical procedures in six weeks. But on Sunday 25th October 2015, just hours short of six weeks old, the shunt she had been given to direct blood flow blocked, and she suffered a fatal cardiac arrest.
The six very special weeks that we got to spend with Sophie were made infinitely more manageable and possible thanks to a “home from home” at Yorkhill Family House (@RMHGlasgow). Accommodation and a variety of other support meant we were a five minute walk from Sophie’s cot 24 hours a day, and not a 90 minute drive from home. There were three or four occasions when we were called in the small hours braced for it being our last moment with Sophie.
We asked family and friends not to send us cards, flowers and gifts when Sophie was born, while we were in hospital and following her death and the funeral. Instead we asked people to thank Yorkhill Family House on our behalf by making a donation.
By the one year anniversary of Sophie’s birth (14th September 2016) we had raised over £25,000. £10,000 of which was donated to the Glasgow Children’s Hospital Charity’s Scottish ECMO Fund. ECMO (heart and lung life support) was a major episode in Sophie’s 6 weeks in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit. The remainder of the £25,000 has gone to the Yorkhill Family House (@RMHGlasgow).
The much happier news is that we have been blessed with another daughter. Jessica Ann Mitchell was born on 12th October 2016 and (no repeat of Sophie’s condition) is a bundle of joy and beam of light every second of every day: https://twitter.com/roomitchell/status/832614838287400960
In memory of Sophie Emily Mitchell: