Press release:

18 September 2019 

Birmingham Women’s Hospital Charity has hit the first major milestone in its Woodland House fundraising appeal, reaching £500,000 in its quest to bring a brand-new, purpose-built bereavement centre to the hospital.

The appeal, which launched just five months ago in April needs to raise £3.5million in total, to make Woodland House a reality – somewhere where heartbreaking pregnancy and neonatal loss conversations can take place.

Currently, space within the hospital is limited and as such conversations take place in rooms and locations that don’t reflect the significance of a family’s loss. Patients often speak of feeling rushed and of having ‘nowhere to go’ after receiving devastating news.

Approximately 2,000 women experience loss at Birmingham Women’s Hospital every year, whether that is through miscarriage, failed IVF, stillbirth or neonatal death. As a specialist centre and one of only two women’s hospitals in the UK, the hospital cares for patients from all over the country.

One such patient is Marie Edwards, from Hereford. Marie and her husband, Howell, discovered they were pregnant with twins on Boxing Day in 2017. Sadly, Marie started to experience severe abdominal pain and she was told that one of her babies was ectopic. The couple remained hopeful for their surviving child and the pregnancy was going smoothly until, at 23 weeks, Marie went into labour. Scared and nervous, they were transferred to Birmingham Women’s Hospital for the specialist care she needed.

On 2 May, Emeleia May was born, and was taken straight to the hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), but sadly just one week later her condition deteriorated and the couple had to make the heart-breaking decision to take her off life-support.

Explaining how a space like Woodland House would have benefited her during this difficult time, Marie remembers: “Howell and I asked if we could take Emeleia outside so we could spend some quality time together. It was a beautiful day and the nurses did everything they could to make sure we had privacy, but we had to sit on a brick flowerbed in the garden as there wasn’t anywhere else to go. Every member of staff we came across was brilliant, really respectful and supportive, but there is no escaping that the current facilities for bereaved families are just not good enough.”

Miranda Williams, Public Fundraising Manager at Birmingham Women’s Hospital Charity, said: “We are so delighted to have hit our first major milestone of £500,000, and to have done it in just five months is incredible. That’s thanks to all of our generous supporters who have really taken the cause to heart – we’re so grateful.

“We are trying to set the standard for pregnancy loss and neonatal death care, nationally and by creating Woodland House we will be able to improve the lives of thousands of families – like Marie and Howell’s – who experience pregnancy or neonatal loss at our hospital every year. There is still a long way to go until we reach our £3.5million target, so we urge people to continue their support.”

Woodland House will be the first of its kind in a hospital setting and has been designed following patient feedback, which advocated the need for a standalone facility that was quiet and private.

Located to the right of the hospital’s main entrance, the new centre will feature separate and private access and will boast bespoke counselling rooms, a private garden, a large communal lounge area for support groups, and a family room with its own private access and garden. It will also have a private and sensitive mortuary, offering families the opportunity to spend time with their loved ones in comfort and serenity.

Find out more about the Woodland House Appeal or make a donation online. Or to donate £5, text WOODLAND to 70970 (standard terms apply).