Family given 'gift' of week to say goodbye to son who died at 10 minutes old

James and Precious Rodbourne

Precious Rodbourne and her husband James lost their baby son Raphael to a rare chromosomal condition. - Credit: Andrew Crowley

A family whose baby died just minutes after birth have told how being able to spend a week saying goodbye to him was a "gift".

Precious Rodbourne's son Raphael was born with trisomy 9, a rare chromosomal abnormality, in 2018 and stopped breathing at 10 minutes old.

But Precious and the rest of the family - including husband James and their three older children - were able to move into Richard House Children's Hospice's Rainbow suite for a week to spend time with their son.

Richard House Rainbow suite

The Rainbow suite, where James and Precious spent a week with Raphael. - Credit: Richard House

Speaking as part of Baby Loss Awareness Week, which ran from Saturday, October 9 to Friday, October 15, Precious said:  “For us, Richard House is Raphael’s home and we continue to feel that way because we never got to take him home.

"It was a gift. For that week, we received so much care and understanding. We created a memory box with Raphael’s hand and footprints, a lock of his hair and photographs.

"If you woke up in the middle of the night and wanted to spend time with him, you could. He looked like a baby who was sleeping.”

The room allowed the couple, from Newham, to make memories with their son, taking comfort by playing music to him.

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Raphael's siblings also received support to help them understand and cope with the death of their baby brother. They were able to leave messages of love for him, while the youngster's name is engraved on a pebble at the Beckton hospice's memory fountain.

Memory stones at the hospice.

Memory stones at the hospice. - Credit: Richard House

But it has warned that the Rainbow suite service may have to be suspended as it faces a shortfall of £500,000 due to the effects of the pandemic.

As part of Baby Loss Awareness Week, the hospice is hoping to raise enough for another family to use the Rainbow suite.

Kathryn Elvin, head of corporate partnerships at Richard House, said: "It is very important to us to spread awareness of and support for those families who lose their baby in pregnancy or soon after being born, helping them still find positive memories to cherish into the future and peer support to help them cope at this most difficult time of their lives.”

To donate towards the Rainbow suite appeal, visit richardhouse.org.uk/baby-loss-awareness-week2021

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