A GIRL born two months early was the first to use a state-of-the-art premature baby incubator bought with money raised by the people of Swindon.

Tiny Nell Tolputt was delivered in the early hours last Friday, after an ambulance rushed mum Sophie Carp to the Great Western Hospital.

Sophie, 36, said: “She was very unexpected. We knew she was going to be a little bit early, but not quite this much.”

The baby’s parents told the Advertiser of the huge sense of relief they felt, hearing the amplified “swish” of Nell’s heartbeat for the first time.

In 2015, Sophie and partner Ed Tolputt suffered heartbreak, when their first-born child, Martha, died after five days on the special care baby unit at the John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford.

“I just felt fear,” said 41-year-old Ed of the moment he knew his wife would again be giving birth to a potentially very ill baby.

“I guess because we’ve been there before, you go into expectation management mode. You think, ‘This is the worst-case scenario.’”

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Midwives and doctors hunted for sounds of baby Nell’s heartbeat – and found it.

Ed said: “You just felt incredible relief. A baby’s heartbeat is quite a distinctive thing. The midwives and doctors are looking around for it, then you hear its ‘swish, swish’.

“Suddenly, you say ‘okay’, we’re dealing with a completely different situation.”

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This week, the little girl, who has an older brother, Jim, two, became the first baby to be cared for in one of the special care baby unit's brand-new incubators.

Made by German firm Dräger, the BabyLeo incubators feature three different heat sources to keep poorly babies warm, a USB socket so mothers can play their baby the sound of their voice or heartbeat, and extra-large side walls to make it easier for parents to cradle their young babies.

Last year, Swindonians helped GWH charity Brighter Futures smash its £175,000 fundraising target to buy five of the incubators. More than £200,000 was raised, meaning the hospital was able to buy eight of the pieces of kit.

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Baby Martha

Sophie and Ed are passionate about special care baby units like Swindon’s.

That stems from their experience at the John Radcliffe Hospital three-years-ago. The couple’s first child, Martha, was born full-term but seriously ill.

She died after five days on the Oxford unit.

“We left with 100 per cent gratitude for the nurses They treated Martha’s like a short life, with love, and did everything they could,” said Ed.

“We came out absolutely raving about the John Radcliffe and the NHS – and I suppose we’ll leave the SCBU here raving about Swindon.”

Praising staff at the SCBU in Swindon, Sophie said: “You feel they will completely care for your baby when you can’t.”

She spent Wednesday night at home in Marlborough: “I knew she was in the safest possibly hands and they would care for her as I would.”

Thanks go to Swindonians, say nurses

Nurses thanked Swindonians for their generosity in helping to raise £200,000 for the eight incubators.

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Nikki Taylor, interim ward manager, said: “I want to say how unbelievably grateful we are to people of Swindon. Without them, we wouldn’t have these incubators. Not only did we achieve what we hoped – we got more.”

The hospital appeal launched at the start of 2018 and it was a donation of £2,000 from a Swindon mosque that got the Brighter Futures cash bid over the line on Christmas Eve last year. Since then, an extra £27,000 has been raised for the SCBU, with more money coming in all the time.

Catherine Newman, director of GWH charity Brighter Futures, said: “We’d say a huge thank you to the whole town for their support. They totally smashed our appeal and it’s meant we’ve been able to buy eight incubators. I never imagined we’d raise this much.”

To donate to Brighter Futures, call 01793 605631 or visit: www.brighterfuturesgwh.nhs.uk.