Teenager Joshua Christian has suffered Hemiplegic Migraines for seven years. The attacks, which can strike at any time, are a symptom of a rare genetic condition he was born with.
His family describe him as “a very determined strong super boy who never complains or feels hard done by.”
In October 2017 the 14-year-old was admitted to his local hospital in Margate with the most severe attack he had ever experienced. He was in unbearable pain and very distressed.
After three days Joshua began having seizures and a CT scan showed up a mass in his head which worried doctors. He urgently needed specialist treatment at The Evelina Children’s Hospital in London.
Working with the South Thames Retrieval Service, the Children’s Air Ambulance transferred him to the capital in just 25 minutes. The helicopter landed near the hospital where a land ambulance was waiting to transfer Joshua to the paediatric intensive care unit.
“If he had been transported by road for the whole journey it would have been incredibly unbearable for him given the serious condition of his swollen brain. It would also have taken about two hours,” says his Mum Claire.
Back in 2011 she had travelled with him to the same hospital in a blue light ambulance. It was a long, bumpy, uncomfortable journey and very distressing for Joshua.
“When we were told about the air ambulance transfer I was very relieved that we wouldn’t have to experience the awful road journey again and we’d avoid extra suffering for Joshua,” explains Claire.
Her son is one of the oldest children to have been airlifted by the Children’s Air Ambulance and at 5ft 8ins tall his body was nearly too big for the helicopter’s stretcher. However the crew got him on board safely and made him comfortable – and Claire was able to accompany him on the flight.
On arrival at Evelina Children’s Hospital Joshua was given a MRI scan under general anaesthetic and assessed by a neurology surgeon. He was moved again by land ambulance to King’s College Hospital – three miles away – where he underwent an emergency craniectomy operation to relieve the pressure on his swollen brain.
“The rapid transfer from Margate to London by the Children’s Air Ambulance was crucial in saving precious time. This became very apparent after the MRI scan revealed that there was a high risk of permanent brain damage if the pressure inside Joshua’s skull wasn’t released immediately,” says Claire.
Since the emergency surgery Joshua has spent months in and out of hospital. He has undergone a second neurosurgical procedure to repair his skull and has also suffered another Hemiplegic Migraine.
Unfortunately his medical condition will never be cured and the migraines are becoming more frequent. But according to Claire “Joshua never gives up or gets down about the challenges he faces.”
He has been a fan of Superheroes since he was two years old and to celebrate how “super and strong” he has been throughout his illness and recovery periods his family and friends dressed in superhero tops and took him out for a meal.