Revolutionary cooling technique saved 90-minute-old baby’s life

PUBLISHED: 06:00 13 August 2018 | UPDATED: 11:39 15 August 2018

Little Simon Meanwell  Picture: MEANWELL FAMILY

Little Simon Meanwell Picture: MEANWELL FAMILY


Little Simon Meanwell has the adorable smile of a seriously chilled out baby.

Helen Meanwell with baby Simon  Picture: MEANWELL FAMILYHelen Meanwell with baby Simon Picture: MEANWELL FAMILY

But it is thanks to a cool medical treatment that he is here today - after he was brought back to life by medics in Norwich.

Simon, now six months old, stopped breathing 90 minutes after being born, and was saved by the medical equivalent of being refrigerated.

The cooling therapy by experts at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital took his temperature down by 4C - stopping him having seizures and saving his life.

Now his parents, James and Helen, are raising money for the facilities and teams that gave them back their son.

Baby Simon Meanwell  Picture: MEANWELL FAMILYBaby Simon Meanwell Picture: MEANWELL FAMILY

It initially took three attempts at resuscitation for Simon’s tiny lungs to work on their own again.

But it was a little known therapy designed to cool the body temperature of babies down which stopped him having seizures, saved his life, and boosted his chances of growing up without disabilities.

Simon was born at Peterborough Hospital and everything initially seemed to go smoothly.

But soon Mr and Mrs Meanwell’s newborn son stopped breathing and medics rushed to give him CPR.

Baby Simon Meanwell  Picture: MEANWELL FAMILYBaby Simon Meanwell Picture: MEANWELL FAMILY

Mr Meanwell, 41 and from Colsterworth, Lincolnshire, said: “He was absolutely fine when he was born but then he stopped breathing. It took six minutes to get his heart started.”

Although he was stable Simon’s condition was so serious he needed to be transferred to the nearest specialist centre, the neonatal intensive care unit at the N&N.

One of three available acute neonatal transfer service (ANTS) ambulances for the east of England was available to take him.

Mr Meanwell, who works at a company which imports quad bikes, said: “The ANTS vehicle is basically a NICU in the back of an ambulance. As soon as they had resuscitated him they started what they call a cooling process, which lasts for 72 hours.”

Baby Simon Meanwell  Picture: MEANWELL FAMILYBaby Simon Meanwell Picture: MEANWELL FAMILY

The treatment, known as cooling therapy, is relatively new and is used on babies who are seriously deprived of oxygen during or shortly after birth to help prevent brain injury.

It involves putting the baby on a waterproof blanket which contains cool circulating water to lower the body temperature to 33C for 72 hours, before allowing it to return to normal.

Until 2014 there was no approved treatment to help reduce the aftershocks of low oxygen at birth but researchers think the therapy works by slowing the production of harmful substances in the brain and the rate of brain cell death.

The Meanwells stayed at the N&N for two weeks, where they described the care and support as “outstanding”, before being allowed back to Peterborough.

Little Simon Meanwell    Picture: MEANWELL FAMILYLittle Simon Meanwell Picture: MEANWELL FAMILY

In total Simon was in hospital for a month.

Mr Meanwell said: “The first couple of days we were just totally in shock. It was very upsetting.”

It is not known how effective the treatment is long term, but Mr Meanwell said Simon seemed healthy.

He said: ““He has a ridiculous number of medical appointments, it works out as around one every three days including nurses coming to see him at home and things. He’s doing very well though but we don’t know what will happen, it all depends how he develops.”

Helen Meanwell and her son Simon  Picture: MEANWELL FAMILYHelen Meanwell and her son Simon Picture: MEANWELL FAMILY

Now, the family is raising money for both ANTS and the N&N NICU by holding a three-hour endurance karting event at Ellough Park Raceway, near Beccles. And they are looking not only for donations, but also raffle prizes and more people to take part.

Mr Meanwell said: “ANTS is basically a charity and when we were in Norwich they had a wishlist on the wall and we just thought it would be great to give something back.

“The equipment used to help save Simon both by ANTS and Norwich and Norfolk NICU is partially funded by charitable donations - we want to help make sure that other families who find themselves in a position that we did, have the people and equipment needed to help save their baby.

“We are in no doubt that had an ambulance not been available as promptly as it was Simon’s future would be looking very different to what it does now.”

Little Simon Meanwell  Picture: MEANWELL FAMILYLittle Simon Meanwell Picture: MEANWELL FAMILY

• The event will be held on September 1 and costs £260 per team of between one and five drivers. For more information search Super Simon’s Charity Kart Race on Facebook or email

If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Norwich Evening News. Click the link in the orange box below for details.

Become a supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years, through good times and bad, serving as your advocate and trusted source of local information. Our industry is facing testing times, which is why I’m asking for your support. Every single contribution will help us continue to produce award-winning local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Thank you.

Most Read

Most Read

Latest from the Norwich Evening News