Why we fly

Jack’s Story

There wasn’t enough space in the helicopter for us. I didn’t like the thought of being apart from him when he was so poorly, but I knew he was in really safe hands. The whole journey was a bit of a blur. It was agonising watching the time tick by. All we wanted was to be at Jack’s side, but we knew that the helicopter transfer gave him the best chance of survival. I can’t really find the words to tell you how grateful we all are that the Children’s Air Ambulance were there for us. Everything could have been very different without their help.

Abi, Jack’s mum

On 11th April 2014, we flew Jack from the Isle of Wight to Southampton. It was a journey that saved his life and that only an air ambulance like ours, with its specialist team, could achieve.

When Jack was born earlier that year, his mum and dad were overjoyed. Mike and Abi already had four-year-old Charlie, and they felt like the family was complete.

However, at just four weeks old, Jack was in hospital with suspected bronchiolitis. He had gone off his feeds and, more frighteningly, was struggling to breathe.

Luckily for baby Jack and his parents, a specialist consultant from Southampton, who came over from the mainland one day a month, saw Jack and conducted an ultrasound and echocardiogram. The consultant advised that he needed emergency specialist heart surgery.

This type of specialist procedure unfortunately couldn’t be done on the Isle of Wight. There are so few hospitals in the UK that can provide such specialist treatment for young babies and children.

Thankfully, due to generous donations and contributions from the public and private sectors, the Children’s Air Ambulance is here to make that difference between life and death.

Travelling from the Isle of Wight to Southampton General Hospital the usual way, by road and then ferry, would have been far too stressful for Jack. So, the paediatric consultants at Southampton and Oxford Retrieval Team (SORT) requested the support of the Children’s Air Ambulance.

Our helicopter first flew the SORT specialists to the Isle of Wight to prepare Jack for the crucial flight and the lifesaving surgery. He needed to be transferred from portable oxygen to a ventilator, then sedated, to make his journey as safe as possible.

The flight took just eight minutes. Any other method of transport would have taken hours. The clock was ticking and that was time Jack didn’t have.

By the time Mike and Abi had arrived at hospital, Jack had been fully prepared for the surgery. However, unbeknownst to them, the worse was still to come. Jack’s tiny heart stopped just before the surgery. If he had been on the road or in the ferry when this happened, the consequences could have been disastrous. For little Jack, every second really did count.

Thankfully, the surgery went really well, and he responded brilliantly to treatment. So much so that the family were able to take him home just 10 days later.

Because of the severity of Jack’s story, we at the Children’s Air Ambulance invited Jack and his family to a video shoot so we could tell his story even better than with just words. You can see for yourself just how well Jack is now doing. Today he’s a bubbly young boy, full of life and energy – just like anyone his age should be.

We are proud that thanks to our efforts and the donations we receive, these stories of overcoming such incredible adversity can be shared with you.

Without your help, some of these life-saving and life-affirming events could never happen. We need your help – no matter how small – to make sure that children like Jack are given the chance they deserve.

“The Children’s Air Ambulance have developed an excellent service. The ability to quickly transfer our specialist team to very sick children and babies can be lifesaving. We transferred Jack within three hours of the initial call from the doctors on the island. This journey would normally take five to six hours. The time saved gave Jack the best chance of leading a normal healthy life. The Children’s Air Ambulance is doing fantastic work in ensuring that these babies are in the best possible hands during their time out of hospital. To know that there is a service like this, helping us looking after these very sick children and babies, is incredibly reassuring.” (Gareth Jones, Clinician, Southampton and Oxford Retrieval Team)