Why we fly

James’ Story

Having been born a staggering 17 weeks early, weighing just 1lb 5oz, baby James needed the specialist help and services that only an air ambulance can provide. With our help tiny baby James could get to where he needed to be safely and quicker than any other mode of travel.

James’ parents, Natalie and Ian, had planned to move to Plymouth in time for his birth to be nearer family. However, due to the complications during Natalie’s pregnancy, their move was put on hold.

Natalie had suffered a difficult pregnancy and, tragically, at 18 weeks, James’ twin sister had died. Then James arrived 17 weeks early, on 2nd February 2014, weighing just 1lb 5oz.

As he was so early and tiny, James was cared for at the hospital in Leeds. Whilst under extensive specialist care, James’ parents had been lucky and found a new home for them and their baby James, nearer to family.

However, this home was 300 miles away in Plymouth. The doctors informed Natalie and Ian that baby James was too small and fragile at this stage in his recovery to travel such a distance by car or ambulance.

To travel from Leeds to Plymouth by road can often take up to nine hours when the traffic is really bad, and with no team to help care for James and the lack of comfort for the journey, it wasn’t possible for this poor tiny miracle to travel this way.

The safest and quickest option for him, was to fly James in the Children’s Air Ambulance with clinical partner team Embrace Yorkshire & Humber Infant & Children’s Transport Service on board. It took the helicopter just two hours to transfer James from Leeds to Plymouth.

For parents, it is always difficult to leave their baby on a helicopter while they follow on by road. To reassure herself, James’ mum asked the medical team to take photos of James throughout his journey on a disposable camera. And once he’d arrived safely at the other end, the team called her to let her know he was okay.

James’ favourite toy is an elephant teddy which has been with him on his journey since he was just a few days old. When we transferred him, his elephant toy was the same size as he was. It’s great to see him with it now and to see how much he’s grown.

Natalie said, “When we found out that James would be travelling by helicopter, his Dad and I were worried that we’d both have to leave him. But, with the Children’s Air Ambulance, we knew he was in really safe hands.”