Life-saving NHS care started early for veterinary student Ella-Mae Storm-Eckersley when she was born at just 26 weeks.
“She weighed 940 grams (33 ounces) and we thought we were going to lose our little girl”, said dad Andrew, from Poulton.
But thanks to huge advances over the years in neonatal medicine and the dedicated professionals in the special care baby unit at Blackpool Victoria Hospital, Andrew and wife Sarah were soon taking baby Ella-Mae home to join their three other children.
Fast-forward 19 years and Ella-Mae was a patient again – but this time in Critical Care with complications from a serious infection following a kidney stone removal in Nottingham.
“It’s been a worrying time for us all but thanks to all the staff here at Blackpool I hope to be back at university by the end of July,” she said.
The student vet and former Rossall School student has been drawn to animals for as long as she can remember, making medicines for her teddies when she was small.
And work experience at a vets’ practice, on a beef cattle farm and at Blackpool Zoo all convinced her to become a vet.
Together with two years’ volunteering at an animal rescue centre in Shanghai where Andrew was working, it all helped her win a place on a five-year course in veterinary medicine at Nottingham University which she started in April 2022.
Whereas doctors develop a diagnosis from what they see and what their patients tell them, Ella-Mae said being a vet had an added difficulty.
“First, there has to be clear communication with the owner as the animals can’t tell you anything. Then, we can piece together this information together to provide the best possible care for the patient.”
Speaking from Ward 15A and looking forward to being discharged, she added: “I’ve got no firm plans for when I qualify but I’d like to develop my surgical skills, work abroad and with exotic species as well as doing charity work.”