Specialists at St George’s Hospital’s Neonatal Unit saved Xander Bannerman’s life “on more than one occasion” when he was born 15 weeks early, weighing just 2 lb 11 oz. Now, seven years on, the youngster and his family have returned to reunite with the team and donate ventilators for premature babies.

The gift was made in memory of Xander’s mum, Anna, who was diagnosed with stage four brain cancer in 2021 and sadly passed away at Christmas 2022.

Xander, along with dad Angus and four-year-old brother Arlo, decided to fundraise for the Neonatal Unit that Anna was so grateful to for caring for Xander in the first three months of his life.

Thanks to the generous donations made on the JustGiving page dedicated to Anna, they have already raised more than £43,000, which has been donated to the hospital’s in-house Neonatal Unit charity, First Touch.

With this money, the unit has been able to purchase two Maquet Servo-N devices for its intensive care nurseries, which are critical in helping care for premature babies. Angus said: “It was just wonderful to visit the Neonatal Unit, to see the ventilators already in use, helping tiny babies to thrive.

“Xander helped fix plaques to each machine – one is called ‘Anna’, the other ‘Xander’. A really special day, made even more so by Xander being able to meet the actual doctors who saved his life at birth. It’s so fitting that Anna’s legacy will be saving tiny lives, every day.”

Dr Sandeep Shetty, Consultant Neonatologist and Neonatal Ventilation Team Lead, said:

“Thank you so much to Xander, Angus, and Arlo for this incredible donation in Anna’s memory.

“Every year, more than 200 babies in our care need ventilation support. The donated ventilators are unique, offering a wide range of breathing support and allowing us to move babies to different areas within the hospital, avoiding stressful equipment changes for vulnerable premature babies”.

“These devices also offer a mode of ventilation called NAVA (Neurally Adjusted Ventilatory Assist). St George’s Neonatal unit is the first hospital in the UK to offer NAVA, which provides individualised breathing support, ultimately benefitting babies and their families. We are fortunate to lead the way not just when it comes to care, but also experience, training, and research”.

Angus and First Touch thanked family, friends, colleagues, and strangers who showed their support.

Sarah Collins, Director of First Touch, said: “Our hearts go out to Angus and his boys on the loss of Anna. With their special plaques, we hope these ventilators will serve as a lasting legacy to a wonderful wife, mother, family member, and friend.

“We are very touched and grateful that at a time of such sorrow, the family chose to commemorate Anna by supporting the Neonatal Unit that looked after Xander.”

Dr Donovan Duffy, Consultant Neonatologist and Neonatal Care Group Lead at St George’s Hospital, said:

“It was very special to have Xander, Angus, and Arlo back on the unit to see the ventilators they donated in clinical use. Xander is a delight at seven years old thanks to his wonderful parents and our team who looked after him for his first three months.

“The Neonatal Unit is extremely grateful for this incredible donation which allows Anna’s memory to continue helping many babies and parents.”

St George’s treats more than 130,000 children every year and its children’s services are rated “outstanding” by the Care Quality Commission.

The Neonatal Unit is one of St George’s many specialist children’s services and is the regional centre for the South West London Neonatal Network, treating newborn babies in south west London and extending down to the south coast.

An upcoming NHS England consultation into where children’s cancer services should be located means that St George’s could lose the service it has jointly run with the Royal Marsden Hospital for more than 25 years.

St George’s urges members of the public to share their views on the consultation.

More information can be found here.