Why we fly

Alex’s Story

I know that 70 miles might not sound that far, but when it’s your baby, who’s spent the majority of his life in hospital, it feels like a million miles away. It was such a frightening time for us, as I watched him struggle to breathe.

Helen, Alex’s mum

Identical twins Niall and Alex were born 11 weeks early, with a combined weight of less than 6lbs. And at only 2lbs 2oz, tiny Alex on his own weighed the same as a small bag of flour.

Despite his early introduction into the world, Niall steadily grew into a healthy baby. However, for Alex this wasn’t the case. He would be forced to battle illness after illness, with every day being a constant uphill struggle for baby and family.

During his first four months, he would spend just five days at home with his loving family, with the rest in specialist care in hospital.

Then, at just over four months old, Alex was back in his local hospital in Margate when he rapidly deteriorated. He had developed bronchiolitis and was experiencing severe breathing difficulties.
Because of his vulnerable size and condition, this was a particularly dangerous time for Alex and a terrifying time for his family to go through.

It was then that doctors advised that he needed an urgent transfer to specialist care in London, over 70 miles away. However due to the severity of Alex’s condition, he needed continuous ventilation. It was very important that he spent as little time out of the safety of a stable hospital environment as possible.

He was simply far too vulnerable to make that 70-mile journey by road, especially on a busy Friday afternoon, when the roads were packed with traffic.

That very same day, the Children’s Air Ambulance came to the rescue.

Working with South Thames Retrieval Team, we flew Alex to the care he so desperately needed in just 28 minutes, a fraction of the time it would have taken by road and with the specialist team looking after him through the whole journey.

We’re pleased to say that a week after receiving treatment in London, Alex returned to his local hospital and was able to finally go home to his family.

When Alex was in hospital, his family felt like there was always something missing. Now his mum just loves watching her three sons play together.

Helen said, “My ultimate fear, as I watched him deteriorate, was that we would lose him. I can’t imagine what might have happened if the helicopter hadn’t been there to fly him.”