Parents grateful for Children’s Air Ambulance ahead of son’s 1st Birthday
At three days old Oscar Edwards from St Austell, Cornwall was flown by the Children’s Air Ambulance to a hospital 168 miles away where he could receive specialist treatment for a rare heart condition.
June 17th is his first birthday and he will be celebrating with a joint lockdown party with his dad Harry – whose birthday is the same day.
Now a happy, active little boy described by his mum Clare as “doing so well”, he is standing and cruising the furniture getting ready to walk.
“He loves clapping which was very appropriate in the past weeks when we have all been applauding the NHS and other frontline workers,” she says.
Clare and older son Jack are planning a rainbow cake for the joint celebration which will involve other family members via Zoom.
“It’s not quite what we had in mind but hopefully it will still be fun,” she says.
Within hours of being born by C-section at Royal Cornwall Hospital, Treliske Oscar started making grunting noises when he was breathing and his oxygen saturation levels plummeted.
He was transferred to the neonatal unit where he was given antibiotics and oxygen, but he didn’t improve and doctors began to suspect that he might have something wrong with his heart.
An echocardiogram was carried out and it looked as though Oscar might have a rare congenital malformation called Total Anomalous Pulmonary Venus Return (TAPVR)*.
The doctors in Cornwall needed a second opinion and so a video link was set up with the specialist paediatric cardiac team at Bristol Children’s Hospital.
“Apparently it was the first time in three years that a baby had been born in Cornwall with the condition and the doctors in Bristol said they wanted Oscar there within 48 hours. It was awful. There was no history of heart problems in our family and we were wondering why this was happening to us,” says Clare.
While new-born Oscar was kept stable and under continual monitoring in an incubator, hospital staff in Cornwall tried to make arrangements for him to be transported to Bristol.
Twice a land ambulance was arranged to take Oscar to the specialist care he needed but on both occasions, it was cancelled.
“We completely understood that something more serious had come up but it was very frustrating and we were getting to the point of despair,” explains Clare.
Not quite knowing what was going to happen next – and getting more and more worried about their tiny son’s health – she and Harry just wanted Oscar to get where he needed to be as quickly as possible.
That is where the Children’s Air Ambulance was able to help. The helicopter took off from its base in Oxford and flew to Bristol to pick up a specialist retrieval team from Wales and West Acute Transport for Children Service (WATCh) to fly them to the Royal Cornwall Hospital.
On arrival, the team prepared Oscar for the flight back to Bristol Children’s Hospital and accompanied him in the helicopter – which took just 54 minutes to complete the transfer. The same journey by road would have taken nearly three hours.
“When we were told that the Children’s Air Ambulance was coming for Oscar we were shocked and so pleased that he was going to be taken to where he needed to be. We looked out of the hospital window and saw the helicopter like a big green angel in the sky,” says Clare.
As it was just three days since she had undergone a C-section operation, she was unable to accompany her son in the helicopter so she and her husband Harry drove to Bristol, which took three and a half hours.
“The team from WATCh kept us updated on Oscar’s progress while we were travelling. By the time we made it out of Cornwall the helicopter had landed in Bristol and by the time we got to Exeter he was settled and on the ward. We knew by the end of the day he would be seen by one of the consultants and we would know more about his condition,” she explains.
It was confirmed that Oscar had TAPVR and after a week in Bristol undergoing tests and being monitored, he was sent home with a plan in place to operate when he was three months old.
However, this didn’t happen as at the age of ten weeks old, Oscar’s condition had deteriorated so much that the surgery was brought forward.
“We will never forget what the Children’s Air Ambulance did for us and are so grateful. We were despairing of ever getting Oscar to the place he needed to be and until the green helicopter arrived had no idea that there was a service to transfer seriously ill children to the specialist care they need.”
“We want to share the story of what happened to us to help raise awareness of and funds for the Children’s Air Ambulance as it is a charity and receives no government funding,” says Clare.
Vital missions like Oscar’s wouldn’t be possible without public support, to help more babies like Oscar, click here