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Triplet parents donate £250,000 to baby unit

16 December 2009

The parents of triplets born 3 months early have raised more than £250,000 to thank staff at a London hospital whose expertise saved their babies' lives.

The parents of triplets born 3 months early have raised more than £250,000 to thank staff at a London hospital whose expertise saved their babies' lives.

Anna and Andrew Collier set up the 3 Little Miracles Fund in summer 2007 to buy incubators, ventilators and other vital medical equipment which will help save the lives of other sick and premature babies cared for in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital.

The charity has had high profile celebrity support from the likes of its patron, former British Lions rugby star Tim Rodber, and BBC sports presenter John Inverdale who hosted a gala ball at the exclusive Hurlingham Club which raised more than £115,000 alone.

The triplets, identical twin girls Isabel and Emily and their brother Ben, were born at just 29 weeks gestation on 8 January 2006. They all weighed less than 3lbs at birth and spent more than 100 days at Chelsea and Westminster fighting for their lives.

The hospital's Neonatal Intensive Care Unit is designated as a Level 3 centre which provides the very highest level of medical and surgical care for more than 500 sick and very premature babies from all over London, the South East and further afield every year.

Anna says: "If it wasn't for Chelsea and Westminster, our babies would not be alive today. The care we received was fantastic. We are so lucky because the triplets are perfect in every way. We set up our charity as a thank you to give something back to the hospital for giving our babies a chance of life and to help the hospital care for other critically ill babies."

Andrew adds: "The charity has grown way beyond our expectations. We not only reached but exceeded our once audacious fundraising target of £250,000 and we have now been able to buy 4 incubators, 4 ventilators and other lifesaving medical equipment.

"With the extra funds raised we have also been able to buy an incubator for the neonatal intensive care unit at Northampton General Hospital which is the area of the country where I am from originally and from where a lot of people have given very generously to the charity.

"The fact that all three of the triplets survived without any of the long-term health problems that can be associated with prematurity seems like a medical miracle to us which is why everyone calls Isabel, Emily and Ben the 3 little miracles."

According to Anna and Andrew, the happy and healthy triplets are now developing their own very distinct personalities.

Andrew says: "Isabel is the mother figure, Emily is the tomboy and Ben is the sensitive one!"

Dr Gary Hartnoll, the Consultant Neonatologist who treated the triplets during their 3 months on the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, says: "On behalf of all the staff on the unit and Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, I would like to say a big thank you to Anna, Andrew and everyone who has donated so generously to the 3 Little Miracles Fund.

"Their incredible fundraising efforts have enabled us to buy state-of-the-art medical equipment which will enable us to save the lives of more babies and to spend NHS funds on other equipment.

"For example, the 4 new incubators we have been able to buy are specially designed so that surgeons can carry out surgical procedures without taking the baby out of the incubator which reduces the risk of infection and other complications."

Anna and Andrew Collier would like to thank everyone who has helped raise money for the 3 Little Miracles Fund including Andrew's colleagues and clients in the commercial property world—he is a partner at commercial real estate services company Cushman & Wakefield—who have donated generously despite the economic downturn which has hit the sector hard.

For example, the National Surveyors Sevens rugby tournament at Richmond Rugby Club in May 2008—sponsored by the Estates Gazette—raised £35,000, European property company Redevco donated £10,000 and real estate investors British Land raised £6,500 for the charity from a Christmas lunch.

The Colliers are continuing their fundraising efforts and are turning the 3 Little Miracles Fund into a broader neonatal medical equipment charity so it can benefit units in hospitals all over the country.

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Photo (above): Anna and Andrew Collier, and the triplets Emily, Isabel and Ben, hand over a cheque for £250,000 to Chelsea and Westminster Hospital Chief Executive, Heather Lawrence, and Consultant Neonatologist Dr Gary Hartnoll.