Sister Sandra Wood, an intensive care nurse at Greater Manchester’s Tameside Hospital, UK, brought about a last moment of joy to a dying man and his family.
Roy Smith, 83, admitted to Tameside weeks earlier for a chest infection, failed to respond to treatment. He knew that he would not survive to see the birth of his grandson. Sister Wood arranged for Roy to hear the baby’s heartbeat just hours before his death.
Roy’s daughter, Vicci Smith Scott, says, “I was devastated that my dad wasn’t going to meet Lorca. I was seven months pregnant and my emotions were all over the place but it was incredible for Sandra to go out of her way for us.”
Sister Wood, a veteran nurse of twenty years, was so affected by this heartrending situation, she arranged, along with midwifery colleagues for a Doppler scan of the unborn Lorcas’ heartbeat.
The Doppler machine detects the baby’s heartbeat, amplifies it and allows it to be heard by all present. It is normally employed as a diagnostic tool however in this case it was used for comfort and peace.
Roy, a former RAF man, died peacefully just two hours after the scan. “We can’t put into words how grateful we are. Being able to allow my dad to hear his [grandson’s] heartbeat means the world to me,” says Vicci.
Lorca was born two months later, weighing in at 6 lbs. 11oz. The first words he heard from his mother, “your grandpa really loved you, we’re sorry he’s not here to meet you but he heard your heartbeat.”
Sister Wood will be given an Excellence in Care award for ‘going above and beyond the call of duty’. Although the humble Sister states, “My actions weren’t extraordinary – it was more about teamwork. I’ve never done anything like this before but I thought it would be nice for the family and help them during a terrible time.”
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