Why we fly
If the helicopter wasn’t there for us I don’t think we would be in the same position today”
The joy of the arrival of their new baby son Ollie turned to fear and horror for his parents when three weeks after his birth he was admitted to the intensive care department at the local hospital at Barrow in Furness struggling to breathe.
He was born 21 days before his due date when his mum Kerry was induced due to obstetric cholestasis (the build-up of bile acids in the body). He didn’t feed very well and lost weight.
Just three weeks after being born, Ollie was on a ventilator suffering with more and more frequent apneas (periods of 15 to 20 seconds without breathing). He needed specialist care which was only available at Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital – 100 miles away by road.
The Children’s Air Ambulance was deployed from its base in Oxford, flew to Warrington to collect a retrieval team from North West & North Wales Paediatric Transport Service (NWTS) and took them to Furness General Hospital.
“When we were told that a helicopter was coming for Ollie I was petrified because I realised his condition must be serious. But I could soon see that the Children’s Air Ambulance had brought a specialist team to him and he was in the best hands from the moment they arrived.”
“The minute they walked into the department we knew everything was going to be alright. The local hospital had done everything they could for Ollie but they said they couldn’t treat him. There had been a lot of rushing around and speculation about what was going to happen with him but everything calmed down immediately,” says Kerry.
Ollie was prepared for the flight to Manchester and Kerry and her partner Jamie were told exactly what was being done to their son and why.
“It was the worst time of my life and I was a complete mess but I immediately trusted them and that made me feel calmer about the situation. If the helicopter hadn’t come with the team I can’t imagine how I would have been,” says Kerry.
It took just 31 minutes to fly Ollie to Manchester – a journey that would have taken nearly two hours by road in a land ambulance.
Kerry and Jamie left their other son Isaac (4) with family and drove down to join Ollie. The NWTS team kept in contact with them and sent photos of Ollie when he was settled in intensive care.
Thankfully the diagnosis wasn’t too scary. Ollie had human metapneumovirus (hMPV) – a respiratory virus that causes an upper respiratory infection like a bad cold.
He was given physiotherapy twice a day and after three days was breathing on his own. When he came off the oxygen a week later he was transferred back to the hospital in Barrow by land ambulance.
Ten months later (February 2020) Ollie is “absolutely fine”. His parents will never forget the part the Children’s Air Ambulance played in getting him the specialist care he needed when he was fighting for breath.
“If the helicopter wasn’t there for us I don’t think we would be in the same position today,” says Kerry.