‘Amazing’ Air ambulance service which came to childrens’ rescue praised by parents
- Credit: Archant
Two Norfolk families have shared their gratitude for a children’s air ambulance after their life-saving intervention during lockdown.
An 11-year-old boy with a potentially life-threatening heart condition was flown on the Children’s Air Ambulance (TCAA) twice in four weeks at the height of the Covid-19 crisis.
And a critically ill two-year-old girl accompanied by her stressed and exhausted mum were airlifted by the charity to ensure they got to hospital as quickly as possible.
Harry Younge, from Wiggenhall St Germans, was nine years old when he collapsed after a family holiday. It was discovered that he had a heart murmur and hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, and his condition has been regularly monitored at Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) in London for two and a half years.
Due to his unstable heart, doctors decided it was safer for him to be transfered between Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King’s Lynn and GOSH by air, in order to avoid him going into cardiac arrest.
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It took around 40 minutes to transfer Harry from King’s Lynn to Regents Park in London, where a land ambulance was waiting to take him to hospital.
His mum Nina, who travelled with him on both flights, said: “I knew he was in safe hands, but I was worried that he would have these arrhythmias, the defibrillator implanted in him would shock or he would go into cardiac arrest in the air.
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“It was so nerve-wracking.
“I was thinking please don’t let that happen, no parent wants to see their child being defibrillated especially not whilst up in the air.”
“Despite the fact he was getting to GOSH as quickly as possible with a team of highly skilled people it was still a very traumatic situation to be in and I was terrified.”
Since the two transfers on May 3 and June 2, Harry, now 12, has had a heart transplant and is back at home.
His mum added: “Since the operation, he’s been thriving - putting on weight, has warm hands and feet and his finger and toenails are pink again. I hadn’t realised how sick he looked before the operation.
“Harry can’t believe the difference either and keeps running up and down the stairs at home because he can do it now without getting out of breath.”
Speaking about his flights, Harry said: “When we got to London lots of people were in the park watching the helicopter land. I said I felt like a celebrity, there were so many people there. It was just a shame I was in my pyjamas.”
A similar story was shared by Cara Marchant from Burnham Thorpe and her two year-old daughter Elodie.
The mum of five took to the skies for the first time when she accompanied her critically ill daughter in the Children’s Air Ambulance in September.
When she was three weeks old doctors discovered Elodie had Alagille syndrome - a genetic disorder that affects primarily the liver and heart.
The pair had spent three weeks at the Evelina Children’s Hospital in London and Elodie had been admitted to the specialist paediatric hospital for a heart catheter procedure, but due to complications, she was unexpectedly transferred to the intensive care unit.
The two-year-old then contracted an infection and sepsis and had to be given intravenous antibiotics for up to 10 days.
Cara said: “I was with Elodie on my own and stayed by her side most of the time. For a while, it was touch and go and I didn’t think she was going to make it.
“I was totally exhausted and didn’t have the strength to cope by myself in London anymore. I asked if Elodie could be transferred to the local hospital so she could continue her treatment nearer to home. This would mean that my husband could take over from me and I could see my other children again.”
There was a bed available for Elodie at the QEH and a specialist paediatric intensive care team from South Thames Retrieval Service accompanied her and Cara on the flight to Norfolk.
Cara said: “It is amazing what the TCAA does, especially as it is all made possible by fundraising and donations.
“Not only did being transferred on the helicopter make a difference to my daughter, but it also helped me at a time I was very stressed and exhausted.”