Former Children’s Air Ambulance patient now “a whirlwind of activity and joy, love and laughter” on his third birthday
An Isle of Wight boy who was flown to Southampton General Hospital for lifesaving treatment by the Children’s Air Ambulance after he choked on food when he was seven months old, celebrates his third birthday on 10 June.
Blaize Dix is now, according to his mum Tash, “a whirlwind of activity and joy, love and laughter” and he will be playing party games and having snacks with his pre-school friends on the local recreation ground on his special day.
Tash says: “Blaize loves running in the woods and hills and as his name suggests he likes anything fast and wild! In calmer moments he loves to help dig in the garden or snuggle up in his tepee with a book and some dinosaurs.”
This is very different from the day in January 2019 when Blaize was rushed to St Mary’s Hospital in Newport with a collapsed left lung after he inhaled a piece of food. His tiny body was limp, and he had nearly stopped breathing.
The doctors there were able to stabilize his oxygen levels and he was anaesthetised and intubated. But his life was still hanging in the balance and it was vital he got to the specialist paediatric care he needed as quickly as possible.
Blaize’s lung would be filling up with mucus and he was at risk of infection and contracting pneumonia if he didn’t receive further treatment.
It took just seven minutes to transfer Blaize and Tash to the mainland compared with a car and ferry journey of over two hours.
The Children’s Air Ambulance was mobilised and flew from its base in Oxford to Southampton General Hospital to pick up colleagues from the Southampton Oxford Retrieval Team (SORT) and take them to the Isle of Wight.
Tash will never forget the moment the helicopter arrived at the hospital.
“When we heard it land everyone in that room breathed a sigh of relief. There was suddenly an atmosphere of calm and stability. You could see the panic go from the eyes of the medical staff. It was the moment that my husband Nigel and I thought it was going to be OK,” she says.
The retrieval team checked Blaize and prepared him for the flight to the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit back at Southampton.
While this was happening Nigel collected their older child Jonah and drove and took the ferry to Southampton – a journey that took two hours and 15 minutes.
Tash stayed with Blaize and accompanied him on the helicopter.
An ENT consultant was waiting on the helipad at Southampton when the air ambulance landed and Blaize was rushed to intensive care to be monitored. Later that evening he was taken to the operating theatre for a bronchoscopy which confirmed that there was no infection in his damaged lung.
“Being able to get from St Mary’s to Southampton in seven minutes is phenomenal. The Children’s Air Ambulance saved his life. The doctors who saw him when we got there said that the speed of his arrival meant that there hadn’t been time for an infection to develop,” says Tash.
It was the news that the family, who were now together again after their separate journeys, were so desperate to hear.
“The Children’s Air Ambulance got Blaize to where he needed to be quickly. There was no panic about the logistics of driving and getting a ferry like there had been for me – and hoping that the weather conditions were OK and the ferry was sailing,” says Nigel.
Blaize was kept intubated and under sedation for 48 hours and was given antibiotics to ensure that his lungs remained clear of infection. When he regained consciousness, remarkably he was considered well enough to go home.
“He pinged back like a little phoenix and was soon laughing and being the little live wire we love so much,” says Tash.