Imelda Nolan

Please briefly describe your clinical/medical experience to date?

I originally trained as a general nurse where I first encountered sick children. This inspired me to undertake further training as a midwife. Midwifery training brought me into contact with premature sick infants. This further inspired me to undertake the Neonatal Intensive Care course and finally to train as an Advanced Neonatal Nurse Practitioner at Southampton University. My current role is medically led, performing many of the tasks undertaken by both junior and middle grade doctors. Over the years, I have witnessed great advancements in Neonatal care. The introduction of surfactant to treat extremely pre-term infants. On the back of a large randomised controlled trial (Toby trial), the introduction of whole body cooling in the treatment of birth asphyxia to prevent or reduce brain injury in new-born infants. My current role involves teaching new-born resuscitation to nurses, junior doctors and to parents before they take their baby home. I am also involved in lecturing on the high dependency course. This course is run to enhance and advance the skills required to care for infants who may be stepping down from intensive care. I am also involved in teaching junior doctors practical skills such as the insertion of central lines in order to administer intravenous nutrition. The smallest baby I ever inserted a central line in was 379gms. I am a prescriber and prescribe the intravenous nutrition alongside any other drugs/antibiotics or blood products which may be required. I continue in my current role to support my nursing and doctor colleagues, but especially the parents of these infants whose whole world stops as they watch and wait to see if their tiny infant will survive. It is a privilege to support them on this journey.

What motivated you to enter paediatric care in the first place?

Well I guess it is probably in my DNA. I come from a family of nurses, both my sisters are nurses. My grandmother was a nurse and midwife and at least three aunts and gran aunts were also nurses. It was always the job I wanted to do and I left a career job in banking to pursue a nursing career

How will the funding from The Evie Dove Foundation help you to advance your career and your impact/services to children?

The generous funding from the Evie Dove Foundation has allowed me to attend the worlds most prestigious conference in Neonatal care. I have learned many new things at this conference, which I will share with my colleagues in a formal talk in the New year. Many of the world’s leading neonatologists are currently struggling with treating 22 week gestation infants in view of the poor outcomes. I also discovered that giving platelets to infants who were not actually bleeding and had counts >25, may have detrimental effect on them. It may cause inflammatory responses leading to other morbidities. Two other controversial aspects were discussed. To surgically ligate PDA’s or wait, the new trend is to wait. To repair inguinal hernias before discharge or wait. A parent of a premature child also addressed the conference and described her long and painful journey to have her voice heard in respect of the evolving cerebral palsy her child suffered as a result of being premature. We heard of her struggle to access the appropriate services. She currently advocates for many other parents assisting them to obtain the proper treatments/services and funding to assist them in caring for their handicapped children.

How did you find out about The Evie Dove Foundation?

I heard about the Evie Dove Foundation through two of my consultant work colleagues. I understand the Foundation was set up to honour the memory of Evie Dove, a young girl who lost her life as a result of brain cancer.

Tell us about yourself!

I live in Surrey, I am one of seven children. I lost a brother to cancer at 50 and my beloved sister to bowel cancer at 49yrs. She left a thirteen year old son who both my brother and I raised and educated. Although he was not my biological child, raising children is a rollercoaster ride with all the highs and lows. He has made a career in the jewellery business and is now settled and in a relationship. I have over the years travelled to Australia many times to visit family. On one trip, calling on my friend who was doing refugee work working for Medicine sans Frontiers. I went on a field visit with her in Phnom Penh (Cambodia) to see a family who had just delivered a very small baby. We brought supplies and gave general advice re the ongoing care of the infant. The parents were very grateful as they could not afford medical treatment. The following day, the father of the baby called at the compound to see us and brought an offering of a single salt fish. I said to my friend that we couldn’t possibly accept this, but she said we must as this was their only way of saying thank you, it was a truly humbling experience. In my spare time, I go to the gym and swim.

Anything else you would like to tell us about your experience, future aspirations and motivations?

To continue to support and teach my nursing and doctor colleagues. Keeping up to date with all the emerging evidence in relation to caring for sick neonates