Durham toddler flown by Children’s Air Ambulance celebrates second birthday
A Durham toddler who was transferred by the Children’s Air Ambulance from a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit in London to a Special Care Baby Unit in his hometown will be two years old on 02 June.
Brandon Farrow was born 12 weeks early at Newham University Hospital when his parents were on a weekend break in London. He weighed just 3lb 4oz.
According to his mum Sarah he is now “very cheeky and strong-minded.” He loves playing with cars, tractors, and boats and pretending to cook in his toy kitchen.
Brandon, who has been going to nursery full-time since September, will celebrate his birthday in Dorset with his parents and grandparents. The family are planning to take him to the beach and to visit an aquarium.
When the Children’s Air Ambulance was mobilised to transfer Brandon and his mum to a hospital near their home in Durham, a difficult situation became a lot easier, and Sarah felt a huge relief to be heading north again where she and her husband Paul have a network of friends and family.
“We had been in London for nearly three weeks with just a small bag of clothes. Paul was going to have to return to work so I would have been in London on my own. Getting home meant we could stay together as a family until Brandon was well enough to go home. It meant everything to us,” she says.
The couple had gone to Newham University Hospital after Sarah developed painful stomach cramps on their second day in London. Four hours later Brandon was born naturally.
Like many premature babies, he needed to be intubated because he couldn’t breathe for himself. As his breathing improved doctors became worried that he might have a perforated bowel and so Brandon and his mum were blue-lighted in a land ambulance to the Royal London Hospital for an emergency operation.
Thankfully surgeons discovered that Brandon’s bowel had self-healed but the operation took its toll on his tiny body and he had to be intubated and given morphine to help his recovery.
Brandon was being fed via an intravenous line in his foot and had to be able to tolerate nasal tube feeds before he could be transferred to a hospital nearer to home. He was 18 days old when doctors decided he could be moved.
The Children’s Air Ambulance took off from its Doncaster base and flew to Barnsley to pick up a specialist neo-natal team from Embrace – Yorkshire & Humber Infant & Children’s Transport Service, part of Sheffield Children’s NHS Foundation Trust.
They then flew to London to collect Brandon and Sarah.
“Brandon was in an incubator and on oxygen. He didn’t like being in a confined space or wearing ear defenders so it was a good thing that the transfer time was minimised by flying in the helicopter as he clearly wasn’t very happy,” says Sarah.
Being able to travel with her son was a great comfort. “I could see all the monitors so I knew that everything was OK during the flight which was a great comfort,” she adds.
It took one hour 48 minutes to fly the 271 miles from London to Durham compared to a road journey of about four hours 40 minutes.
The helicopter landed on playing fields near University Hospital of Durham where a land ambulance was waiting to take Brandon to the Special Care Baby Unit.
It was another five and a half weeks before he was finally allowed home, but Sarah and Paul will forever be grateful to the Children’s Air Ambulance and Embrace for safely transferring their son to a hospital where he could get the specialist care he needed close to the family home.
As a thank you Paul is fundraising for the charity, which receives no government funding and relies on public donations to remain operational – Please click here to go to his JustGiving Page.