We’re delighted that the BBC’s chosen to feature Tommy’s for their February Lifeline appeal. The special film, presented by ambassadors Ben and Marina Fogle, focuses on the lifesaving difference our research is making to babies’ lives across the UK.
Our appeal will be a 10-minute film broadcast on BBC One on 27 February at 13:15 and available online soon after broadcast.
We refuse to accept that 1 in 4 pregnancies have to end in loss or premature birth. That’s why we’re working tirelessly to reduce the UK’s unacceptable rates of miscarriage, stillbirth and premature birth. Just like many organisations who rely on voluntary donations, Tommy’s has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.
This fantastic opportunity from the BBC will raise much-needed awareness and funds that will enable us to continue to carry out our lifesaving research at a time when pregnant women and their families need our support more than ever.
Our film is presented by our supporters Ben and Marina Fogle. Ben and Marina sadly experienced a miscarriage before having their 2 living children, Ludo and Iona. The couple’s son Willem was then tragically stillborn at 33 weeks.
“I was lucky to survive the placental abruption that killed my son; while trying to recover emotionally and physically, I found exercising really cathartic, which is how I ended up running a half marathon for Tommy’s. As soon as I heard about how their ground-breaking research was already having a significant effect on saving babies’ lives, I had to get involved. I hope my support for Tommy’s will ensure that my children, grandchildren and even great-grandchildren will become parents in a world where baby loss is extremely unlikely to affect them in the way it has me.”
“Right now, 1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage, stillbirth or premature birth – and shockingly, most parents never find out why. The truth is that so much pregnancy loss could be prevented, but we need more research to improve care; that’s why I’m a huge advocate for Tommy’s and it’s a charity very close to my heart. Across the UK, Tommy's dedicated researchers, doctors, nurses and midwives are finding causes and treatments to save babies’ lives. More research will make pregnancy safer and healthier for everyone and save babies’ lives. Together, we can make it happen.”
Ben and Marina believe passionately in our mission to halve the number of babies who die in pregnancy or birth by 2030. They continue to help us break the silence around baby loss and support our pioneering research to identify why pregnancy goes wrong and how we can prevent it happening in the future.
Marina has visited our Stillbirth Research Centre in Manchester and met with Professor Alex Heazell who leads the team there and appears in our Lifeline film.
Prof Heazell said:
“For many years, the idea of baby loss as ‘one of those things’ meant no one asked why; that left us starting from basics, so research has a lot of catching up to do in comparison with other areas of medicine. In a way, the taboo is similar to that surrounding cancer 50 years ago - without discussion of signs and symptoms, however small the chances were of developing it, people didn’t come forward early enough to save lives. Lifting that taboo is critical. I feel very fortunate to be able to combine my clinical work, looking after families in a speciality I care deeply about, with research that will hopefully improve outcomes for them.”
We’d also encourage you to tune in to meet some incredible women who share their heart-breaking and inspiring personal experiences. They also explain how, thanks to our specialist care and research, they’ve all gone on to bring home healthy, happy babies.
Obiélé’s first baby Sapphire-Rae was sadly born far too soon to survive, at just 20 weeks. When she got pregnant again 6 years later, Obiélé asked her doctor about having a stitch put in her cervix, which she had read online could help women like her to keep their babies safe inside for longer. Sadly, the local hospital refused, and she lost Isabella-Rae when her waters broke at 23 weeks. A month later, Obiélé and her partner Nii-Addy came to our Preterm Birth Surveillance Clinic and met the first person they felt properly listened to their concerns: Professor Shennan. Our team carried out the operation Obiélé had requested before and provided specialist care and support through 37 anxious weeks of pregnancy. Tetteh-Kwei is now a thriving 2-year-old and Obiélé is currently being cared for by our team again with another baby due this spring.
Anita had a surprisingly smooth pregnancy with first son Nirvan, only to be devastated by multiple miscarriages over the next 7 years. After another painful loss at 21 weeks, Anita and her husband Nadir came to our Recurrent Miscarriage Clinic for specialist help. As the couple are NHS doctors, their next pregnancy was made even more stressful by the pandemic – and extreme anxiety meant the couple kept it secret from almost everyone. Anita struggled with her mental health and says she couldn’t have survived without the support and reassurance of our team, especially Tommy’s research nurse Oonagh. Fortunately, baby Rumi made it to 33 weeks, arriving safe and well last summer.
Katherine experienced 3 miscarriages in 3 years, as well as a life-threatening ectopic pregnancy, while trying to have a sibling for her daughter Anika. Having had no problems in her first pregnancy, she couldn’t understand why this was happening, and came to our National Centre for Miscarriage Research in search of answers. Professor Quenby advised Katherine to join the SIMPLANT trial, using a diabetes drug to boost stem cells in the womb lining and hopefully help it hold onto a pregnancy. After months of taking the drug at a specific time each day, keeping a diary of her symptoms and travelling to Coventry for regular appointments, Katherine fell pregnant shortly after the trial ended. Despite the anxiety of pregnancy after loss, everything went well, and her second daughter Sietske is now 2 years old.
Huge thanks to the BBC for this opportunity - and for making it all possible, a massive thank you to Ben and Marina Fogle, Obiélé Laryea, Anita Raja, Katherine Miles, and Prof Alex Heazell.