The wife of Olympic cycling champion Sir Chris Hoy has officially launched a £73,000 fundraising drive to help Scotland’s premature babies and children with eye cancers.
Sir Chris and Lady Sarra Hoy’s son Callum was born at 29-weeks weighing just 2lbs 2oz in 2014.
Lady Sarra is now an ambassador for Bliss, a UK charity for sick and premature babies.
She is supporting Specsavers to raise money for charity Simpsons Special Care Babies (SSCB) to be able to buy a PanoCam Pro for The Simpson Neonatal Unit in Edinburgh – a centre of excellence which helps premature and sick babies throughout the country.
The eyecare firm has also designated Bliss Scotland as its charity of the year, meaning extra cash will support such babies and their families across Scotland.
Lady Sarra said: “I am delighted to be supporting this initiative. I have been a Bliss ambassador for many years and know first-hand that the care a premature or sick baby receives on a neonatal unit can make a huge difference to them.
“The work Specsavers are doing to support Bliss is vital because it will help to support and nurture the parents of these babies as well. I look forward to seeing the incredible results this partnership will achieve.”
Rapid changes in organ development in what would be the last three months of pregnancy mean premature babies need their eyes checked regularly, which can cause them stress.
The PanoCam provides a much quicker and safer way to examine them and aids image sharing and team decision-making.
Specsavers was encouraged to launch the fundraiser by its Edinburgh Cameron Toll and Morningside store partner, optometrist Michael O’Kane, whose daughter Sophie was born at 24-weeks weighing just 1lb 15oz. Now aged seven, she helps her father raise money for Simpsons Special Care Babies.
Mr O’Kane said: “It’s difficult to find the words to describe what we went through when Sophie was born.
“There were many times we thought she wouldn’t pull through and at one point there was concerns her vision would be permanently affected, but she gradually recovered and the support from the unit was incredible. We are forever indebted to them.
“When babies are born as early as Sophie was, they need frequent eye checks while in the incubator, which can be hard to orchestrate.
“The process itself can put the baby under a lot of stress and it can take days for their oxygen levels to get back up again.
“Bringing the PanoCam to this unit will be life-changing for Scotland’s premature babies, and help ease added distress for the parents. It can also be used to detect ocular tumors in older children.”
MED Surgical, which supplies the equipment, usually charges £113,000 but has contributed £40,000 to the campaign.
Specsavers stores are donating £2 from optical coherence tomography (OCT) scans and earwax removals in August and September.
Various other fundraising initiatives are planned and a raffle to win tickets to the Euros raised more than £4000.