Tommy's news, 20/03/2017
On 15th May 1992, a fresh-faced Instant Sunshine gave a concert for a brand new baby charity – the Tommy’s campaign.
David Barlow, Alan Maryon-Davis and Peter Christie had been students at St Thomas’ Hospital, and were drawn to the campaign that their colleagues Ian Fergusson and Anthony Kenney, alongside their patient (and new mother) Lucy Nelson, had set up.
Frustrated at the number of babies that were dying during pregnancy and birth, this trio founded Tommy’s to answer the question no parent should have to ask: 'why did my baby die?'
At the time the UK had rising rates of premature birth, one of the worst rates of stillbirth in developed countries, and up to 35% of all pregnancies ended in miscarriage.
Giving birth too soon can be an incredibly anxious experience and premature birth is the leading cause of neonatal death in the UK.
25 years on from the founding of Tommy's and things are improving enormously.
Our Preterm Surveillance Clinic at St Thomas' Hospital in London has successfully reduced the number of premature births in South East London from 9.2 percent to 7.8 percent.
Catherine Jayaram says that without the treatment and support of Tommy's preterm Surveillance Clinic, her baby Priya would not be alive today.
'The fact that Priya survived pregnancy past viability is purely down to Professor Shennan and his team. Their knowledge means they can correctly identify risk factors and offer treatments that many hospitals, including my local hospital, can't. Words cannot express the level of gratitude I have for the clinic. I just hope that one day the care given at these clinics becomes a national standard, so that more women like me can have a positive ending.’
90% of women attending a Tommy's pre-term birth clinic take home a full-term healthy baby.
Instant Sunshine (just as fresh-faced!) have gained a fourth member, Tom Barlow and have given many more concerts in support of Tommy’s.
The group have raised over £230,000 towards Tommy’s work, which has made huge steps forward in addressing the lack of pregnancy research in the UK. We are so very grateful for their incredible generosity over the years.
Their 50th anniversary concert in February was no exception, with the band covering such important issues as The Garden Shed, and School Sports Day.
It was a full house at Cadogan Hall, perhaps partly to do with the gorgeous bracelet Tiffany & Co. kindly donated to the event as a raffle prize. In a lovely twist of fate, it was won by one of the band member’s wives!
Everyone at the concert displayed an incredible generosity and their money will fund the vital work Tommy’s continues to do at our founding centre at St Thomas’s Hospital in London.
Clinical Director of the Preterm Surveillance Clinic Professor Andrew Shennan says,
'Tommy’s had a long term goal in making a difference in this area and with the charity's support we’ve really gone from strength to strength. We have been able to increase the size of our clinic, provide women who come to us with the highest level care and treatment and conduct the research that is really making a difference.'
Support like that of Instant Sunshine means that we will continue to save the lives of babies that are born too small, too soon.
We conducted an interview with Professor Andrew Shennan late last year about the progress Tommy's is making in prematurity research; read what he has to say.
Paulo and Melinda Almeida became founding members of our new giving club Tommy’s25 after benefiting from pioneering research and care at Tommy’s Maternal and Fetal Reseach Centre in London.
'I was able to enjoy my pregnancy knowing that I had been given the best treatment possible and there was never any sign of pre-term labour.'
Tara gave birth to Felix under the care of Professor Shennan and the team at Tommy's Pre-term clinic at St Tomas' Hospital, London.
'Our baby granddaughter Erin died at 3 weeks old and our grandson Daniel was in hospital for an extended period'
Last year's Fayre & Square Family Superstar Award winners Linda and David Carr took this title for the outstanding care and attention they gave their daughter when she went into early labour. They tell us what this award meant to them.
Researchers in our Edinburgh centre are working on a new, more accurate test for predicting premature birth.
Tommy's is setting up a platform that will help researchers study premature birth more effectively.
Tommy’s is helping to test cheap, easy-to-use ways of predicting the risk of premature birth in areas lacking healthcare resources.
Scientists think that damaged cervixes make it easier for infections to travel to the womb, resulting in preterm labour.