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12 March 2021

Couple devastated by spinal cord injury see first precious moments of daughter’s life together thanks to special efforts of two local hospitals

A first-time dad who feared he would not be able to be present for the birth of his baby daughter following a life-changing spinal injury is praising hospital staff at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and Chesterfield Royal Hospital NHS Trust for helping him and his wife witness one of the most important moments of their lives.

Jordan (24) and Emily (23) Anderson, who married late last year, were dealt a double blow when Jordan suffered a devastating spinal cord injury after an abscess burst in his spinal cord. He was paralysed him from the ribcage downwards and was told he would need 24-hour specialist care at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals, 20 miles from where his wife was due to give birth at the Royal.

“I had prepared myself for the fact that I wouldn’t be able to be there for the birth of my first child,” said Jordan. “It broke my heart seeing Emily so upset and knowing that I couldn’t be there to support her, or be there to see the birth of my child.”

Consequently, Emily started to make other plans: “I hadn’t seen Jordan face to face since he was admitted to hospital and we hadn’t really discussed him being there at the birth because we didn’t think it would ever happen. In fact I’d made other plans, to have my sister with me.”

Determined to help, staff on the orthopaedic ward at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals and midwives at neighbouring Chesterfield Royal Hospital pulled to get to see what could be done. A number of virtual meetings, sometimes involving 18 or 19 different clinicians from both hospitals took place to make the necessary arrangements to support Jordan and Emily.

Pregnancy complications meant that Emily had to be induced early, meaning the complex arrangements then had to be finalised in a couple of days rather than weeks.

“I knew that plans were in place to try and get Jordan to the Royal, but I had to be induced due to pre-eclampsia,” added Emily. “My baby’s heart rate began to deteriorate so the decision was made to get me to theatre for an emergency C-section. All I wanted was for Jordan to be there with me.

“I heard one of the theatre staff saying something like ‘we need to get Dad here’ and within five minutes he was here. I’ve never felt so happy to see anyone, to see him there with me at that moment made all the difference.”

“It meant the world to me being there during the birth,” said Jordan who said that baby Elsie weighed 6lbs and 2ozs. “To see my child literally just being born, I can’t put it into words what that means.”

Due to Emily’s extended stay, Jordan was temporarily placed under the care of the Royal’s orthopaedic department, giving the couple precious time together that they might not have had if Emily had gone straight home.

“I know people say that babies don’t do much in the first few weeks but it’s about getting to know Elsie and I desperately wanted Jordan to be a part of that, I can’t believe the teams from both hospitals were able to make that happen,” added Emily.

Following Emily and Elsie’s discharge, Jordan was transferred to the Princess Royal Spinal Cord Injuries Centre at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals, where he will continue to receive specialist rehabilitative care for the next few months.

“Both my wife and child have been my biggest motivator,” Jordan added, “I can move myself a bit easier and I can put a t-shirt on myself and sit myself on my hands. I can’t thank everyone enough for helping me to be there with Emily at one of the most important moments of our lives.”

Emily is now looking forward to being able to bring Elsie to see Jordan when he can come out into the hospital grounds in his chair: “They’ve moved heaven and earth to give us such a precious week together as a family. Thanks to the time we were given to bond in that first week it’ll be a happy reunion rather than a first meeting and I’m so grateful to everyone for making that a reality.”

Professor Chris Morley, Chief Nurse for Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “This is a fantastic example of exceptional team working across different professionals, Trusts and wards. Both Jordan and Emily have gone through huge life-changing events, so we are delighted to have worked with our colleagues in Chesterfield to put the needs of both our patients first and bring them together at one of the most precious moments of their lives.”


Photo: Emily and Jordan are reunited at the Royal for the birth of their baby girl Elsie, and Jordan, who will need to use a wheelchair for the rest of his life, being supported with his ongoing physiotherapy at the Princess Royal Spinal Cord Injuries Centre in Sheffield.


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