Kent girl flown by the Children’s Air Ambulance celebrates 3rd birthday
A girl from Birchington in Kent, who was flown by the Children’s Air Ambulance when she had pneumonia and urgently needed specialist paediatric care, celebrated her third birthday on Sunday 06 September.
Phoebe Honour is now, according to her mum Amy, “a bouncy child, full of beans who is on the go until she sleeps”.
She hasn’t been ill since 21 February 2019 when she was flown from the Queen Elizabeth Queen Mother Hospital in Margate to the Evelina Children’s Hospital in London.
Four days before Phoebe, then 17 months old, was admitted to the local hospital with a fever and breathing difficulties. What had been diagnosed as a virus by their GP had now developed into pneumonia and she was very poorly.
Single parent Amy stayed with Phoebe day and night while her older daughter Bethany was looked after by relatives.
“It was so overwhelmingly scary. It was awful,” she says.
Phoebe had to be moved to the High Dependency Unit when her condition started to deteriorate. Fluid had collected on her right lung and it had nearly collapsed. She was struggling to breathe, her heart rate was rapid and her temperature was dangerously high.
With no paediatric intensive care facilities at the Queen Elizabeth Queen Mother Hospital it was vital that she was transferred to a hospital where she could get the specialist care she so urgently needed.
That’s where the Children’s Air Ambulance was able to help out.
The helicopter took off from its Oxford base, picked up a children’s intensive care team from South Thames Retrieval Service – based at Evelina London Children’s Hospital – and flew them to Margate.
When the STRS team arrived, Phoebe had been sedated and intubated and a ventilator was breathing for her. Her blood oxygen levels had been stabilised and she was ready to be flown to London.
“Phoebe was very calm and settled. I felt very useless and was crying and emotional as I hadn’t slept for days. But everyone made me feel involved in what was happening and explained about the flight and what they were doing to Phoebe and why, “says Amy.
She accompanied her daughter on the 30-minute flight to Battersea Heliport where the STRS intensive care ambulance was waiting to transfer them to the Evelina. It would have taken over two hours to get there by road.
“I’m not frightened of flying but I hadn’t been in a helicopter before. The pilots put me at ease. They were very friendly and concerned about how I was feeling. They explained what they were doing and made me feel involved which really helped me at the time.”
“The STRS team were also second to none with the care they gave to Phoebe and the amazing reassurance for me which made things a lot less stressful,” says Amy.
When Phoebe got to the Evelina, doctors inserted a drain into her chest to clear the fluid that had accumulated in her lung. She was kept under sedation for three days and came off the ventilator after six days.
Phoebe was discharged after spending nine days in the Evelina and she and Amy were reunited with Bethany when she accompanied her grandmother to the hospital to drive them home.
“The Children’s Air Ambulance is amazing. I think getting Phoebe to the specialist care she needed so urgently saved her and certainly improved her recovery time. I will always be very grateful for what they did,” says Amy.
“Seeing Phoebe having such a good time on her birthday and running around made me realise just how different it could have been if she hadn’t been flown to the paediatric intensive care unit in London,” she adds.
The Children’s Air Ambulance relies on public support to keep families together and help little patients like Phoebe so that they are able to celebrate their birthdays. To help more babies and children, click here.