On 11th April 2014, we flew Jack from the Isle of Wight to Southampton. It was a journey that saved his life.
When Jack was born earlier this year, his mum and dad were overjoyed. Mike and Abi already had four year old Charlie, and they felt like the family was complete. However, at just four weeks old, Jack was in hospital with suspected bronchiolitis. He had gone off his feeds and, more frighteningly, he was struggling to breathe.
A consultant from Southampton, who came over from the mainland one day a month, saw him and conducted an ultrasound and echocardiogram – and advised that he needed emergency specialist heart surgery. This couldn’t be done on the Isle of Wight.
That’s when we were called in.
Travelling from the Isle of Wight to Southampton General Hospital the usual way, by road and then ferry, would have been far too stressful for Jack. So the paediatric consultants at Southampton and Oxford Retrieval Team (SORT) requested the support of the Children’s Air Ambulance.
Our helicopter flew the SORT specialists to the Isle of Wight to prepare Jack for the flight and the lifesaving surgery. He needed to be transferred from portable oxygen to a ventilator, then sedated, to make his journey as safe as possible.
The flight took just eight minutes.
By the time Mike and Abi had arrived at hospital, Jack had been fully prepared for the surgery. But worse was to come – his heart stopped just before the surgery. If he had been on the road or in the ferry when this happened, the consequences could have been disastrous. For little Jack, every second really did count.
Thankfully, the surgery went well and he responded so well to treatment, the family were allowed to take him home just 10 days later.
“There wasn’t enough space in the helicopter for us. I didn’t like the thought of being apart from him when he was so poorly, but I knew he was in really safe hands. The whole journey was a bit of a blur. It was agonising watching the time tick by. All we wanted was to be at Jack’s side, but we knew that the helicopter transfer gave him the best chance of survival. I can’t really find the words to tell you how grateful we all are that the Children’s Air Ambulance were there for us. Everything could have been very different without their help.”
– Abi, Jack’s mum
“The Children’s Air Ambulance have developed an excellent service. The ability to quickly transfer our specialist team to very sick children and babies can be lifesaving. We transferred a Jack within three hours of the initial call from the doctors on the island. This journey would normally take five to six hours. This time saving gave this baby the best chance of leading a normal healthy life. The Children’s Air Ambulance is doing fantastic work in ensuring that these babies are in the best possible hands during their time out of hospital. To know that there is a service like this, helping us looking after these very sick children and babies, is incredibly reassuring.”
– Gareth Jones, Clinician Southampton Oxford Retrieval Team
With your support, we can see more little patients like Jack grow up.