Meet the patients: Jack Somerset
More than 3.5million people watched as Lisa Hall held her baby for the first time, after an agonising ten-day wait.
The emotional moment was part of Channel 4‘s One Born Every Minute, filmed at Southampton’s Princess Anne Hospital.
Lisa, 22, and her partner Will Somerset, 25, agreed to take part in the series after finding out that their baby had a condition called gastroschisis. Lisa said: “We wanted to do this to help reassure other parents in the same situation.”
The couple, who live in Lulworth, Dorset, had originally planned to have their baby at Dorset County Hospital in Dorchester. However, when Lisa’s 12-week scan revealed the gastroschisis they were referred to Princess Anne Hospital for specialist care.
Gastroschisis means the baby has a hole in the abdomen, where some of the bowel (intestine) has come through to the outside of the body. This is a rare problem, which occurs in around one in every 3,000 births.
In the first episode of One Born Every Minute, viewers saw Lisa have an emergency caesarean section. Jack was delivered 25 days early and immediately taken to the neonatal unit, with his bowel wrapped in a special film.
Usually the bowel is put into a plastic bag, known as a silo, for a few days and gently squeezed back inside the baby’s abdomen. However, as the hole in Jack’s abdomen was too small, he needed an operation.
Lisa said: “I didn’t get to see him until 12 hours after he was born, just before he was transferred to paediatric intensive care (PICU) for his operation.”
Jack spent eight days on PICU, with a special mesh bag that was gradually made smaller until all of his bowel was back inside.
One Born Every Minute rejoined Lisa’s story in episode three, when she was finally able to hold baby Jack. She said: “I had no trouble bonding with him because I was so desperate to hold him. I held him for about an hour but it seemed like minutes.”
Lisa spoke openly on the programme about her emotions, including how hard it was to watch nurses feeding her baby when she couldn’t even hold him. She said: “I had lots of comments through the programme’s Facebook page, including mums who felt the same way and were relieved to see they weren’t the only ones with those emotions.”
After nearly a month in Southampton, Jack was transferred back to Dorset County Hospital, until he was well enough to be fed normally. Now home with Lisa and Will in their Lulworth cottage, he is a happy, healthy baby. Lisa said: “He takes after his dad. Will was my rock while Jack was in intensive care - he just takes everything second by second, while I panic about what might happen next. Jack is very calm, just like Will.”
This story was first published in Connect magazine.