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Taunton toddler flown by Children’s Air Ambulance turns two

A toddler who was flown home to Taunton by the Children’s Air Ambulance, after being treated in a hospital 75 miles, away celebrates his second birthday on 23 May.

Caiden Bell is now, according to his mum Emily Milton, “a cheeky little chappy, absolutely full of energy and a loving and caring little boy.”

He loves playing with building bricks, his toy cars and garage.

The family are planning to celebrate Caiden’s birthday with a garden party at home with family and friends.

“We will have a good weekend with lots of food and cake – whatever the weather!” says Emily.

After he was born by emergency caesarean – four weeks early – Caiden’s life was hanging in the balance. He had been starved of oxygen during his traumatic birth and was in urgent need of cooling therapy (therapeutic hypothermia) to reduce the chances of severe brain damage.

This treatment wasn’t available at the local Musgrove Park Hospital in Taunton and just four hours later Caiden, accompanied by dad James, was rushed by land ambulance to Derriford Hospital in Plymouth.

Emily was still recovering from surgery and didn’t see Caiden until the next day when her mother drove her to join her partner and son in Plymouth.

“I didn’t know if he was going to be OK. I had only seen him for five minutes. It was so hard and I was very emotional,” she says.

Emily and James stayed with Caiden in Plymouth for 10 days until he was strong enough to be transferred back to the hospital where he was born. Their older son Noah – who was just approaching his second birthday at the time – was looked after by friends and relatives.

The family’s life was in chaos but, thankfully, Caiden responded to the cooling therapy and after eight days was strong enough to be taken off a ventilator. Two days later, although he was still being tube-fed, it was decided he could be moved back to Taunton.

“After everything we had been through we just wanted to get back home. When we found out that the Children’s Air Ambulance was coming to pick up Caiden and take him back to the hospital where he was born, we couldn’t believe it.”

“We had never heard of the charity and we know how much it costs to fly helicopters so we were overwhelmed that one was coming especially for our son.  It was such a massive thing for us to get back home,” says Emily.

The Children’s Air Ambulance took off from its Oxford base to collect a NEST Team, a specialist neonatal transport team from University Hospital Bristol NHS Foundation Trust. They then flew to Plymouth to pick up Caiden.

It took just 26 minutes to fly him back to Musgrove Park Hospital, compared with a journey of 76 minutes by road.

There wasn’t enough room on the helicopter for Emily or James to fly with their son as the parent seat was being used by an additional member of the NEST team. But they didn’t mind as they knew Caiden was in safe hands and was being transported the quickest way possible.

After what she describes as “the hardest ten days of my life”, Emily was “overwhelmed with gratitude” to see her tiny son safe and comfortable inside a specially designed baby pod ready to be flown home.

“We will never forget what happened to Caiden and the part the Children’s Air Ambulance played in getting him home quickly and safely. We are just overwhelmed with gratitude for everything they did,” she says.