Ambulance worker Tom Smy had a very special surprise guest at his 21st birthday party - the hospital consultant who saved his life when he was born.
Tom was cared for by Dr Aung Soe and his team in the Oliver Fisher Baby Care Unit of the Medway NHS Foundation Trust after being born 13 weeks premature, weighing just 1lb and 10ozs.
Tom had chronic lung disease and was extremely unwell, receiving seven blood transfusions and 28 different types of medication to keep him alive.
After three months on the unit Tom was able to go home but needed oxygen for more than a year.
At six months old he developed Meningococcal Septicaemia and it was Dr Soe's quick response that saved his life once again, transferring him to Guy’s Hospital in London where he made a full recovery.
Tom’s mother Claire is in no doubt that Tom owes his life to the skill and compassion of Dr Soe and his team. She said: "We will be forever grateful to Dr Soe and his team for everything they've done."
Dr Aung Soe, Consultant Neonatologist at Medway NHS Foundation Trust said: “It was such a great honour to be invited to Tom’s birthday party."
“We have a great team here at the Oliver Fisher Neonatal Unit and 21 years ago a highly skilled group of medical and nursing colleagues provided the care Tom needed to give him the chance to live a full and healthy life.
"It was very special to see what a wonderful person he has become, and I was particularly proud to find out that not only is he a former patient, he is now an NHS colleague too!”
Rehman Chishti, the MP for Gillingham and Rainham helped to arrange the surprise after being contacted by Claire. He commented: “I was delighted to help my constituent, Claire. She asked if I could arrange for the amazing Dr Soe, one of the best paediatricians in the country, to attend Tom’s 21st birthday party. Dr Soe saved Tom’s life as a baby, and she wanted her son to be able to thank him.”
It came as quite a surprise to Tom to meet the man who saved his life. He said: “I was so pleased to see Dr Soe again after 21 years and I am immensely grateful to everyone in the NHS.
"Dr Soe saved my life numerous times and if it wasn't for him, I wouldn’t be where I am now! Thank you to everyone who helped me all those years ago."