Valentine returns to Conquest to thank staff for saving her life 18 years ago

Valentine with her parents plus Natalie Stevens (left) and Pauline Simes (right) from ITU
Valentine with her parents plus Natalie Stevens (left) and Pauline Simes (right) from ITU

THE first ever baby to be born at the Conquest Hospital returned to thank staff for saving her and her mother’s life.

Valentine Davies, who is now 18, came into the world in September 1994 just hours after her brave mum Caroline had undergone a five-hour operation to remove her left kidney because of a cancerous tumour.

The teenager, who lives in Sedlescombe, met with doctors and nurses at the Conquest who were involved in her mum’s operation and when she gave birth.

Valentine was born against all the odds as she was the only surviving baby of triplets. The other two were lost when Mrs Davies miscarried at three-and-a-half months into her pregnancy.

She gave birth to Valentine prematurely by emergency Caesarean section at the Conquest’s intensive care unit (ITU).

Mrs Davies, of Whydown Hill, said: “After I had miscarried a consultant at the hospital in Eastbourne scanned me and said I was still pregnant. I became very ill with a really bad pain in my side. Doctors told me it was a possible cyst on my kidney but an MRI scan at King’s College Hospital revealed it was a huge tumour.”

Consultants decided she should have the operation to remove her kidney before giving birth.

After it was performed successfully by Roger Plail and his team, Mrs Davies felt another pain in her side.

She said: “I told the nurse on duty, Emma Moon, that I thought there was something wrong with the catheter. Emma told me I had gone into premature labour. I had been given drugs before my kidney operation to stop me going into labour but these hadn’t worked.

“There was no one available to do the emergency Caesarean at the Buchanan Hospital, where the maternity unit was based. Panic set in until the registrar and midwife at Buchanan were sent up to the Conquest and performed the Caesarean in the middle of the night.”

Valentine was born six weeks premature on September 7, 1994, weighing just 4lbs and 12oz. It was also the day of her mum and husband’s ninth wedding anniversary.

She was transferred to the Buchanan’s special care baby unit (SCBU) and stayed in an incubator for two-and-half weeks.

Her mum, who runs Abbey Gate Property Management in Battle with husband Ian, said: “Valentine was so tiny, she looked like a little doll.”

Thankfully Valentine had no long-term health problems after being born premature.

Her mum said: “The fact that Valentine and I are alive and well is totally down to the marvellous care at the Conquest. Valentine was looked after so well and had regular check-ups after she was born.”

Mrs Davies is so grateful to the Conquest one of her daughter’s two middle names is Emma, after Emma Moon, the nurse who organised the emergency Caesarean.

Valentine, who is studying a Btec in TV and film production at Bexhill College, said: “It was very emotional visiting the Conquest, meeting the doctors and nurses who saved me and my mum’s life. I did find myself crying a bit. I also saw the bed where mum gave birth to me.”

Valentine and her parents would like to get in touch with Ms Moon as she has since left the Conquest to personally thank her. If anyone can help contact Richard Gladstone at the Observer on 01424 856786.