Mum wades in to thank neo-natal unit

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Mum-of-two Nikki Waski is taking the plunge – 50 of them to be exact – to thank a hospital that saved her babies.

The 38-year-old from Pulpit Hill took on a challenge to take 50 chilly dips in the sea from January 1 this year to February 28 raising money for Glasgow Children’s Hospital Charity and the neo-natal unit at the Royal Alexandra Hospital where daughter Mara, now three, and son Torran were born early.

Torran, whose first birthday is on February 28, arrived seven weeks early just days before the first lockdown started.

Torran needed extra special care at Glasgow’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital before returning to Paisley’s Neo-natal unit
Mara needed special care at Paisley’s Neo-natal unit, then so did baby brother Torran

The tot, who weighed in at 4lbs 15oz, was delivered just 16 minutes after the ambulance from Oban made it through rush hour traffic and heavy snow.

‘He was really poorly to start with. He had problems with his breathing, his lungs were collapsing,’ said Nikki.

Torran had to be transferred for special care to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital where he was put on a ventilator for a few days.

‘It was traumatic and a very frightening time,’ added Nikki, who could not be joined by her husband Shane because Mara got Chicken Pox.

After more time back at Paisley, Torran was thriving and was eventually allowed home to be with his dad, who runs Basking Shark Scotland, and big sister whose name Mara is Gaelic for sea.

‘After the first time, when Mara came 10 weeks early, people had reassured me it wouldn’t happen with the second one, but it did.

‘Although Mara came much earlier, she was the healthier of the two at birth. She was tiny at 3lbs 6oz but well. We just had to wait for her to grow, spending about six weeks in Paisley and in an incubator. She was a feisty wee monkey and still is.

‘We are eternally grateful for what the neo-natal unit did for us, giving us both our babies to bring home. Every single day we are so thankful, the staff there are just the most unsung heroes of all.

‘If it hadn’t been for Covid we would have taken the children back with cards and chocolates to see the staff and show them how well they are both doing, but of course lockdown has made that impossible.  So that’s where the cold water swim challenge came in.

‘I’ve done snorkelling and paddle boarding but cold water swimming was new to me. I like going early mornings best. It’s definitely not a slog, the water is so good, just 20 minutes and I feel refreshed for the whole day. I’m hooked on it now,’ said Nikki who had just completed her 34th challenge swim when she spoke to The Oban Times.

So  far Nikki has raised more than £1,800 towards the neo-natal unit and hopes her story will boost funds even more.

To support Nikki search Nikki Wasik on