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North Yorkshire baby flown by TCAA is now a ‘bundle of energy’ as she celebrates first birthday

North Yorkshire baby flown by TCAA is now a ‘bundle of energy’ as she celebrates first birthday

A baby who was flown home to North Yorkshire by the Children’s Air Ambulance – after being born by emergency C-section while her parents were on holiday 112 miles away – celebrates her first birthday on 26 October.

Harriet – from Northallerton – is now, according to her Mum Malika, “a happy bubbly little girl who loves laughing, smiling, and waving.”

She is a “bundle of energy” and enjoys the park, her baby gymnastics class, and walks with Malika and her husband Chris.

Unable to celebrate Harriet’s birthday as they would have liked to due to Covid restrictions, they are planning to take their daughter to a wildlife park to mark her special day.

Harriet made her unexpected arrival into the world after Malika started haemorrhaging while away on a weekend spa break with Chris. The couple were enjoying some time together after being separated during most of the pregnancy due to both their work commitments in the RAF.

Malika had suffered a placental abruption, which puts mother and baby at risk if left untreated, and was blue-lighted by land ambulance to Cumberland Infirmary, Carlisle.

Within two hours of arriving, Harriet was born and immediately taken to the Special Care Baby Unit and put on a CPAP machine to help her breathing. She was severely jaundiced – which required phototherapy treatment – and had a heart murmur.

Chris was going back and forth between the Special Care Baby Unit and maternity ward, where Malika was recovering from the emergency C Section and losing 2.5 litres of blood.  It wasn’t until 13 hours later that mother and baby were reunited.

“Chris and I are both used to coping with varying levels of stress, but we found ourselves thrown into a special care environment miles away from home and we felt incredibly scared, lonely and isolated,” says Malika

After four days Harriet was well enough to be transported to a Special Care Baby Unit at Harrogate District Hospital which was closer to home.

Chris and Malika were immediately put at ease when the Children’s Air Ambulance and a specialist neo-natal team from Embrace – Yorkshire & Humber Infant & Children’s Transport Service – arrived at Cumberland Infirmary to transfer their daughter.

The helicopter took off from its Oxford base and flew to Barnsley to pick up the Embrace team and then on to Carlisle to meet the couple and baby Harriet.

Harriet was prepared for the flight back to Harrogate by the Embrace team who then accompanied her on the 45-minute journey between hospitals

“It was the hardest thing to stand watching the helicopter take off and not be able to be with our daughter, but we knew she was in safe hands,” says Malika.

Although there is a parent seat on the helicopter, Malika was unable to fly due to the amount of blood she had lost during the operation so Chris drove them the four and half hours straight to Harrogate hospital to reunite them as a new family.

Harriet spent another eight days in the local Special Care Baby Unit – where she received further phototherapy treatment and feeding support through a feeding tube in her nose – before she was well enough to go home.

Malika says:

“Looking back to 12 months ago, we are truly grateful the Children’s Air Ambulance was able to assist with getting Harriet from one Special Care Baby Unit to another at our more local hospital when she was three days old.”

“Luckily it was able to support us when we needed it most. Going away on a babymoon was meant to be relaxing, we didn’t expect to miss the trip and eventually come home with a baby! We never expected a premature baby, but we’ve had more time to enjoy her as a family and we love her more than we ever knew possible.”