Blacktown Hospital receives Cuddle Cot, in memory of former patient

27 Jul 2016

Blacktown Hospital’s birthing unit is now home to a piece of new equipment, critical to parents with a stillborn child, thanks to a generous donation from organisation Bears of Hope Pregnancy and Infant Loss Support.

The charity, which provides support for families who have experienced the loss of a baby, purchased a Cuddle Cot and donated it in memory of Ryan McDonald, who was stillborn at the hospital in 2010.

The cot, which is fitted with an insulated cold blanket, acts like a refrigerated bassinet, allowing babies who have passed away to stay in the room with their parents, rather than in a morgue.

 A Cuddle Cot been donated to Blacktown Hospital

Ryan’s mum Tara McDonald, from Quakers Hill, was on-hand to donate the Cuddle Cot to the ward, in the hope of helping other parents suffering from the loss of a baby.

Tara said she was blindsided when she lost Ryan, who was born still just four days before her due date.

“I’d had a perfect pregnancy; I had two other children so I knew what to expect and I’d been feeling great, there were no issues,” she said.

“At 39 weeks, I noticed that I couldn’t feel much movement from Ryan so I went to Blacktown Hospital; I didn’t have any idea what was going to happen.”

Tara started working with Bears of Hope after Ryan’s birth, attending monthly support meetings, before deciding to raise awareness of the importance of Cuddle Cots to grieving parents.

“When we lost Ryan, Blacktown Hospital didn’t have a Cuddle Cot and I know it would have made such a difference to us,” she said.

“We would have done anything to have a little more time with Ryan, in a way that was comfortable and convenient; the Cuddle Cot just gives families that choice.”

Bears of Hope co-founder Amanda Bowles said the cots had been popular with parents.

“We want to reassure families that they can spend as much time as they like with their baby, without the fear of the baby needing to be cooled in a traditional mortuary,” she said.

“Giving the cuddle cot to Blacktown Hospital allowed us to honour Ryan’s memory, as well as the advocacy and fundraising efforts that his family have provided Bears of Hope.

“Bears of Hope Pregnancy and Infant Loss Support provides leading support and exceptional care for families who experience the loss of a baby.”

Blacktown Hospital birthing unit manager Julieanne Barratt said the ward was grateful for the donation.

“Our staff understand the gravity of the loss of a baby for parents,” she said.

“The Cuddle Cot really allows families to spend a few more moments with their child; we know our patients will benefit.”