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Ashford baby’s helicopter transfer featured in national charity campaign

An Ashford mum’s account of how her premature baby was flown by the Children’s Air Ambulance is the focus of the national charity’s 2020 summer fundraising campaign.

Kerri Barkway says she “had never been so scared, upset and confused in my whole life” as when she was watching her tiny daughter being carefully loaded onto the helicopter for a flight to their home town 174 miles away.

Autumn-Rose was born by emergency C-section two days earlier at the James Paget Hospital in Great Yarmouth while Kerri and her partner Shane were on holiday. She needed to be transferred to the local William Harvey Hospital in their home town as quickly as possible.

The flight took just 48 minutes compared with the four and a half hour road journey Kerri and Shane had to be reunited with their daughter back in Ashford.

“It’s amazing how quickly Autumn-Rose got there. My mum was waiting at the hospital for her and phoned to tell us she had arrived safely. When we got the call we were still in Great Yarmouth and I hadn’t even been discharged,” explains Kerri.

She and Shane were on holiday in Beccles when they became concerned that Kerri hadn’t felt their baby move for a while.

It was August Bank Holiday Monday last year so they phoned NHS 111 and were advised to go to the nearest hospital in Great Yarmouth to be checked out.

Kerri was attached to a monitor which revealed a problem with her baby’s heartbeat so it was decided to perform an emergency C-section.

After two days in the Special Care Baby Unit arrangements were made to transfer Autumn-Rose back to the hospital in her home town.

By the time Kerri and Shane arrived in Ashford, Autumn-Rose was settled in the intensive care unit where she spent a week before being moved to the neonatal unit.

For another three weeks, her parents spent 14 hours a day at the hospital with her and were delighted when she was finally discharged 26 days after she was born weighing 4.8lbs.

Kerri says:

“We will never forget the part the Children’s Air Ambulance played in getting the Embrace team to Great Yarmouth and then transferring them back with our daughter to the local hospital. We knew she was in the safest hands possible.

“I am hoping our story will encourage people to support this charity which keeps hope alive for families with critically ill children and babies. Autumn-Rose is living proof of the amazing work they do every day of the year, and they rely on fundraising and donations to remain operational.”