Cumbria baby is the face of national charity’s fundraising campaign
A 13-month-old baby boy from Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria is the face of a national fundraising campaign for the Children’s Air Ambulance (TCAA).
Ollie Robinson was flown by the lifesaving transfer service for critically ill babies and children in April last year after suffering frequent apnoeas (periods of 15 to 20 seconds without breathing).
He was born 21 days before his due date when his mum Kerry was induced due to obstetric cholestasis (the build-up of bile acids in the body). He didn’t feed very well and lost weight.
The story of Ollie’s transfer from the local Barrow-in-Furness Hospital to Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital – for the specialist care he urgently needed – is the focus of the national appeal for the children’s charity during these unprecedented and challenging times.
The Children’s Air Ambulance was deployed from its base in Oxford, flew to Warrington to collect a retrieval team from North West & North Wales Paediatric Transport Service (NWTS) and took them to Furness General Hospital.
“When we were told that a helicopter was coming for Ollie I was petrified because I realised his condition must be serious. But I could soon see that the Children’s Air Ambulance had brought a specialist team to him and he was in the best hands from the moment they arrived,” says Kerry.
Ollie was prepared for the flight to Manchester and Kerry and her partner Jamie were told exactly what was being done to their son and why.
“It was the worst time of my life and I was a complete mess but I immediately trusted them and that made me feel calmer about the situation. If the helicopter hadn’t come with the team I can’t imagine how I would have been,” says Kerry.
It took just 31 minutes to fly Ollie to Manchester – a journey that would have taken nearly two hours by road in a land ambulance.Kerry and Jamie left their other son Isaac with family and drove down to join Ollie. The NWTS team kept in contact with them and sent photos of Ollie when he was settled in intensive care.
Thankfully the diagnosis wasn’t too scary. Ollie had human metapneumovirus (hMPV) – a respiratory virus that causes an upper respiratory infection.
He was given physiotherapy twice a day and after three days was breathing on his own. When he came off the oxygen a week later he was transferred back to the hospital in Barrow by land ambulance.
Thirteen months on and Ollie is “absolutely fine”. His parents will never forget the part the Children’s Air Ambulance played in getting him the specialist care he needed when he was fighting for breath.
“If the helicopter wasn’t there for us I don’t think we would be in the same position today. The Children’s Air Ambulance receives no government funding, it survives through generous donations from the public.
“Due to the recent crisis the charity have been unable to undertake its usual fundraising activities which is why public support is more important now than ever – so that they can help more babies and children in their hour of need, like Ollie,” adds Kerry.