Two hardworking nurses have been reunited with a now five-month-old whose life they saved in a gruelling, month-long fight for survival in intensive care.

Fariq Hussain Chowdhury was born on April 7 at the Royal Oldham Hospital via an emergency caesarean-section after his mother, Ariifa Hussain, reported feeling reduced movements.

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Newborn Fariq's life was hanging in the balance as he needed immediate respiratory support, diagnosed with severe hypoxic-ischaemic encephalopathy (HIE) - a condition caused when a baby’s brain does not receive enough oxygen and/or blood flow at the time of birth.

HIE can affect the brain and cause problems in the lungs, liver, heart, bowel and kidneys.

Not only was Fariq battling HIE, his parents were also gravely worried about the risk posed by coronavirus as the pandemic roared into view.

The Royal Oldham Hospital

Fariq’s mother, Ariifa, who lived in Rochdale at the time, said: "It was terrifying when Fariq was first born and moved to the NICU.

"Not only were we incredibly worried about his condition, but the world itself was a very scary place.

"As it was during the pandemic, I was so frightened about what this new virus could potentially do to my very poorly baby if he contracted it."

Fariq was rushed to the hospital's neonatal intensive care unit, where he was closely watched over by nurses Katie Broadbent and Lauren Woolerton, both from Holmfirth.

The two nurses, along with a team of medics, cared for Fariq for more than a month as he grew stronger.

After being on death's door, thanks to the help of the carers, Fariq was able to leave hospital and is now a 'thriving' five-month-old.

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"All of the doctors and nurses at the Royal Oldham Hospital were wonderful and now Fariq is almost five months old and thriving," continued the mum.

"We want to say a huge thank you to everyone involved in his care. We are so grateful.

"Katie and Lauren really stuck out to me and my husband, as their kind words made us feel comfortable and at ease when we were on the unit and gave us the confidence that we could and would get through it.”

Now, Fariq and his parents were able to reunite with the two nurses to give their thanks in an emotional meeting.

Katie Broadbent, NICU nurse at The Royal Oldham Hospital, said: “It’s been brilliant seeing Fariq and his parents today. Lauren and I have loved every minute.

"You wouldn’t know it was the same baby to the one we first met five months ago.

"We’re delighted to see him thriving and doing so well. His parents should be very proud of him, but also very proud of themselves.”

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The reunion marks this year's National Neonatal Nurses Week, which stretches from September 13 to 19 - celebrating the dedication of neonatal nurses who work hard for the tiniest of patients and families.

Kirsten Mitchell, founder of the Spoons Charity, a neonatal support organisation, said: "For parents of neonatal babies, NICU nurses are superheroes that wear scrubs not capes. When babies are on the units, the nurses form a critical part of a support system for parents; parents who are often highly stressed and anxious about their baby.

"Once a baby is discharged and able to go home, being able to properly mark that moment and thank the nurses involved in a child’s care is an incredibly important part of a family’s journey, however, the pandemic has made that impossible. There were no hugs and celebrations for so many families and no opportunity to thank the incredible neonatal teams."

The NICU at The Royal Oldham Hospital and Spoons have been working in partnership since 2015. Volunteers from the charity spend time on the unit to provide peer support to parents, as well as offering trauma counselling, bereavement support and community groups and play sessions.

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