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King's Lynn Queen Elizabeth Hospital where father from Cairo and mother – a Olivia Newton John in Grease lookalike – met

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It all started with a twinkle in my father’s eye as he spotted a nurse who looked a bit like Olivia Newton John.

It was 1990 and the Lynn Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) was ten years into its 30 year lifespan.

The wall wasn’t held up with props, nor were nurses catching rainfall in buckets from the disintegrating ceilings.

Baby Eve with her dad Dr Tawfick.
Baby Eve with her dad Dr Tawfick.

The young-ish ear, nose and throat specialist from Cairo got to know this 27-year-old Sandy from Grease lookalike from the hills of Scotland. A year later they got married after a proposal at Antonio’s – a very popular restaurant in Lynn that is now Taste of India.

Two people from completely different parts of the world met, courted and married in little ol’ Lynn, after meeting in the corridors of the hospital.

My mother became pregnant with me in 1991 and six months into her pregnancy suffered life threatening pre-eclampsia (high blood pressure).

Eve Tawfick.
Eve Tawfick.

To save her life I was born by emergency section three months premature, on October 10, 1991. I weighed 1.5 pounds and even lost weight at one point.

Doctors used a very powerful drug called surfactant to stop my lungs sticking together and I couldn’t breathe without a machine. Surfactant is made up of proteins and fats, helps keep the lungs inflated and prevents them collapsing.

I spent weeks in an incubator and was fed through a tube – my mother could only touch me through a tiny hole.

I looked like a ‘skint rabbit’ (skint is Scottish for skinned) according to my grandma. As they didn’t have a premature baby section in shops my mother had to buy dolls’ clothes to fit me. My rate for survival was low, and my father prayed for my life.

Chances were I may have survived with severe brain damage and I went home at the weight of 3lb with a heart monitor.

I had check-ups at the QEH regularly throughout childhood to assess my brain and organ function. By some form of miracle, aside from ADHD I’m totally normal and healthy.

Thank you to every single member of the team and the QEH, you mean everything to me and my family.

My mother and father are divorced, and she still looks like Sandy. They might not agree on much, but they are both incredibly grateful for that day and the tireless efforts of the staff. I grew up not only to survive but thrive, 30 years ago when the chances were slim.

The work of the doctors, nurses and midwives mean I’m here decades later to tell the tale. My mother also survived and my brother was born in the same hospital in 1993 weighing a sturdy 9lbs (you should see him now).

The hospital recently released a survey asking the public what the QEH means to them and why it needs to be rebuilt.

Me and my children wouldn’t be here today without the QEH. From flirtation, conception and then the incubator I was quite literally a product of it.

The nurses and doctors there saved me and my mother’s life back in 1991. And again, when I was five years old, staff worked around the clock to save my mother and their fellow nursing sister from sepsis.

So thank you QEH. For everything, I will owe you for ever.

Eve Tawfick

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