An Edinburgh schoolgirl is championing a mass donation of hand-knitted baby clothes for the neonatal unit that saved her life in 2014.

Sophie O’Kane (soon to be 5) from South Edinburgh has teamed up with her dad – Specsavers’ Morningside director Michael O’Kane – to launch a collection of home-knitted blankets, bonnets and teddy bears for the Simpsons Special Care Babies charity.

Sophie was cared for by the specialists at the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit in The Simpson Centre in the city after she was born at just 25 weeks gestation, weighing a tiny 1lb 15oz, and the collection is launching on her fifth birthday. Proud dad, Michael has offered his opticians on Morningside Road as the collection point for donations and will be hosting a bake sale in store on Thursday 6 June, when visitors can pop by and pick up a knitting pattern.

Get involved 

Michael, who also serves as Paediatric Optometrist in the local eye hospital, said: ‘Sophie knows that she was under the care of the wonderful team at Simpsons when she was born and understands that other babies like her and their families still need our support.

‘She is the inspiration behind this drive and we hope that the community of Morningside really gets behind us this summer. We can offer the specific knitting patterns and advice on things like sizes and materials in store for anyone keen to get involved, so please stop by.’

Michael and his colleagues at Specsavers previously donated £3,800 from the firm’s charity fund to pay for a Vapotherm respirator machine, which was crucial in Sophie’s recovery as a baby.

A special cause

Simpsons Special Care Babies is a volunteer-run charity, supporting the care of premature and sick new-born babies in the Neonatal Unit of The Simpson Centre for Reproductive Health at the New Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh, Little France.

The Simpson Neonatal Unit is the largest Neonatal Intensive Care Unit in Scotland. More than 10,000 babies are born in the Lothian Region each year and over 7,000 of these are delivered in the Simpson. The Unit provides every possible kind of care for these babies and the Charity seeks to support this vital work.

The collection will run until Monday 12 August. 

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