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Poppy’s Story

“If someone was not sure whether to leave a donation to the charity, I would say do it. People don’t realise how important the Children’s Air Ambulance is. You won’t regret it. I was lucky that Poppy was flying home, and was on the mend. But I feel reassured that if things had gone differently, there would have been a service to get Poppy to the surgeons who could help her.” (Gemma, Poppy’s mum)

Gemma was still pregnant with Poppy and working when she suddenly fell very ill. She was diagnosed with pre-eclampsia, a condition that causes high blood pressure and other symptoms that cause complications with childbirth, and can lead to fits that are dangerous for both mother and baby.

Because of Gemma’s condition, Poppy had to be delivered that Saturday by an emergency caesarean.

At first Poppy struggled to breathe properly. As she was premature, Poppy’s mum was warned that she would be small and possibly blue, but the doctors thankfully managed to get her breathing in theatre.

Shortly after this first hurdle, Poppy’s stomach started getting really distended – like that of a malnourished child.

Gemma said, “It looked like someone had inflated her tummy.”

At first doctors thought she had a condition called necrotising enterocolitis, in which tissue in the intestines becomes inflamed and start to die.

Gemma said, “I googled it of course, and it sounds fatal for premature babies. I was so scared. She had tubes and needles everywhere. I’d had to have IVF to have her. She was so precious, I thought how could this be happening? I can’t lose her.”

The doctors at her local hospital in Grimsby tried everything they could to get to the bottom of the problem, but nothing seemed to work.

She had been there for six weeks when suddenly there was a dramatic, frightening change in her condition. Poppy’s stomach became extremely bloated.

She had to be transferred to a hospital in Nottingham, so paediatric specialists could take a look at her and try and treat the problem. They travelled by land ambulance, which took over two hours.

Specialists at Nottingham worked to try and find out what was wrong with her, but tests came back negative and Poppy continued to feed poorly.

Then, suddenly and amazingly, she started taking her bottle and carried on taking it. Everything even started to settle down, and Poppy, miraculously began to feed normally.

Eventually, we discovered that Poppy’s stomach had been underdeveloped from being born too early, and that hospital care and time had allowed the stomach to develop properly on its own. The doctor gave Poppy’s family the incredible news that she was going to absolutely fine. What started as a worrying and then terrifying experience for Poppy’s parents became a happy moment of relief and joy.

But now she was in Nottingham, far from her family in Grimsby, and still fragile. That’s where we came in. The Children’s Air Ambulance flew Poppy home to Grimsby in just one hour and seven minutes, much faster and safer than the journey took by car.

Thanks to our specialist equipment and highly trained team, Poppy could now travel to her family home safely to recover with her loved ones around her. Only through your donations can we make these amazing differences to the lives of these children and their families. And we do this each and every day, whenever and wherever we are needed. It’s what we mean when we say ‘Their life above all’.

Gemma said, “It was fantastic to hear that Poppy could be home in minutes. When we met the crew, who would fly with Poppy, they were also amazing. You know when you feel so safe. We felt 100% reassured by the crew, that was when I knew she was going to be fine. Getting her home at that time was, well, amazing.”

With your support, we’ll be proud to see more little patients like these grow up.

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