Turbos get behind fundraising aim

Fundraising to make visits to Palmerston North Hospital's neonatal unit more comfortable will get a boost this week as the Manawatu Turbos take to the field in special jerseys.

This year the team hopes to raise over $8000 to provide the unit with 12 new LazyBoy chairs.

When the Turbos donned special fundraising jerseys last September it was a win-win for the team and the hospital - the Turbos beat Southland 27-17. The side made nearly $10,000 selling off the jerseys they wore during the match. It was enough to donate 17 new TVs to the hospital's children's ward.

This year's jersey design highlights the importance of the neonatal unit with nearly 500 baby handprints on the sleeves and bottom of the jerseys. In 2013 the unit admitted 522 babies with their stays ranging from a few hours to two months. The tiny handprints are taken from a recent baby patient who was looked after by the unit. Turbos manager Verne Wilson said the idea to raise funds for the chairs came from the MidCentral District Health Board. "We're happy to help. The guys realise they could be needing the unit's help one day."

About one in four babies born in Palmerston North Hospital will need to spend time in the unit.

Gemma Avery knows better than most what it's like. Avery is a nurse at the hospital and after complications arose during her second pregnancy her son Cooper spent five weeks there after he was born early at 32 weeks.

"The first week was quite hard," Avery said. "We knew he would be premature but you can never be prepared for this."

There weren't many comfortable chairs in the unit and it was amazing the Turbos were helping the unit in this way. "When you wanted a cuddle or were feeding you'd want a comfortable chair. It would be great to have had more."

The Turbos will don the special jerseys for tomorrow's home game against Bay of Plenty; 7.35pm kickoff.

Manawatu Standard