Charity presents £2k CuddleCot to new £3m baby loss centre

The Luca Foundation, Sharon Luca-Chatha, CuddleCots
Raj & Rup Lal from sponsors DRD Capital Birmingham present the CuddleCot to Woodland House.

A charity established by a Coventry woman following her own experience of stillbirth, has donated a £2k CuddleCot to a new baby loss centre in Birmingham.

The special refrigerated cot has been presented to Woodland House at Birmingham Women’s Hospital, by The Luca Foundation.

The CuddleCots are designed to act like a refrigerator to keep the body cold which allows the parents to have up to a week with their baby and, if they wish to, even take them home with that equipment.

Sharon Luca-Chatha’s life was turned upside down in June 2012 when she lost her precious son to stillbirth at 36 weeks. Since then she has gone on to give the ‘gift of time’ to more than 3,000 grieving families and donated and repaired more than 120 CuddleCots for maternity units, neonatal intensive care units and paediatric wards through her award-winning Luca Foundation.

She said: “A CuddleCot will give the families the ‘gift of time’ with their baby that they would not otherwise have. When a baby dies, there is a lot of information to take in, forms to sign, post-mortem to discuss etc. therefore the extra time is very much needed to take in all that has happened and the trauma that comes with that.

“It is instrumental for the mental health of the parents and family, often including young siblings, for the grieving process to start with their baby in their arms.

Sharon is still battling PTSD following her trauma when her ‘sleeping’ baby was taken away immediately after the birth and not returned for nine hours!

“I am still working through this trauma with EMDR therapy, but the anger of what happened to us is the fire within me that wants to ensure all parents in these tragic times have access to a working CuddleCot, something I wish I had had,” she said.

“The long-term effects of not having a CuddleCot, such as in my case, can lead to chronic illness from the trauma of not having enough time with your baby. For me, four years later, I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, which led to me grieving the loss of my health, successful career and independence, along with my never-ending grief for my son.”

The Luca Foundation, Sharon Luca-Chatha, CuddleCots
Sharon Luca-Chatha

Woodland House, which was built at the side of Birmingham Women’s Hospital, cares for over 2,000 grieving parents every year who have lost a baby through miscarriage, stillbirth or neonatal death. The £3m centre – the first of its kind in the UK – was funded over three years by donations and corporate sponsorship. It is designed to be a safe haven in which families can grieve, away from the maternity ward.

The Luca Foundation has is now hoping to raise further funds and awareness at the charity’s second Gala Dinner, on May 11th.

The Luca Foundation, Sharon Luca-Chatha, CuddleCots
Woodland House

This year’s event at Birmingham’s Park Regis Hotel, is being hosted by comedian Tommy Sandhu and MC Sandra Godley OBE and includes a welcome glass of fizz, three-course meal and dancing to a DJ.

A raffle and auction on the night will help further boost funds, one of the top prizes including a private dinner for four people cooked in your own home by 2021 Masterchef winner Dan Lee, from Birmingham.

Headline sponsor for the event is DRD Capital in Birmingham. Any businesses that would like to donate a raffle or auction prize or get involved as a sponsor, can contact Sharon at: sharon@thelucafoundation.org.uk

Tickets cost £65 and are available to purchase

Through the charity Sharon also directs funds to provide resources, facilities and research to reduce infant mortality and support bereaved parents.

Sharon is driven by her vision to fund enough cuddle cots to service every maternity unit throughout the UK and then turn her attentions to cuddle blankets, for under 18s.

The Luca Foundation, Sharon Luca-Chatha, CuddleCots
Woodland House

She said: “A parent’s worst nightmare is to lose their child. We were beyond devastated, our world had fallen apart. From the moment Luca died on the Monday inside my womb, to the Thursday when I gave birth to him, everything was in a daze.

“We were not ready for the next blow – the limited time we had with him, knowing we would then never see him again. After holding onto Luca as long as we could – just a few hours – we had to hand him over to be taken to the mortuary. This caused us such trauma. We just cried uncontrollably.

“As I look back I realise that was the defining moment when I decided I wanted every parent to have access to a CuddleCot.”

Sharon has also gone on to write two books on the subject of child loss, Angel Warriors and an illustrated children’s book Why Did Grandad Die? which is available in schools across Coventry and Warwickshire. She’s also launched a range of memorial gifts. The Endless Love Collection is aimed at supporting the grief process as well as promote physical and mental wellbeing.

She added: “The growth of the Luca Foundation has completely exceeded my expectations. I’m very proud of that and proud of the fact that, despite getting more than 10 repair requests every month, we’ve been able to fulfil all of them so far.”

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