The Children’s Air Ambulance is the first and only dedicated helicopter emergency transfer service for seriously ill children and babies, flying them from one hospital to a more specialist unit, alongside their team of clinicians; a journey usually made by land. They are a charity that receives no Government funding and instead relies entirely on the generosity of members of the public to fund their vital service, which costs approximately £134,000 a month to run.
Unbelievably, it’s estimated that approximately 5,800 children need transferring between hospitals every single year. Currently the majority of these transfers are performed by land, meaning sometimes long and arduous journeys for seriously ill youngsters. The Children’s Air Ambulance is able to drastically cut the time it takes to carry out these types of transfers, which means sick children and babies can get lifesaving care as soon as possible -giving them the very best chances of survival and recovery.
One day old Theo Mikova was the first infant to fly in the children’s helicopter earlier this year. Weighing just 4lb 14oz, Theo was transferred on a fifteen minute flight from Scarborough Hospital to Hull Royal Infirmary after complications were revealed at his birth.
After a difficult labour, Theo’s mum Denisa Mikova had to be put under a general anaesthetic in order to give birth to Theo by emergency Caesarean section. Once Theo arrived, doctors realised that he needed an operation on his oesophagus, which had failed to join correctly to his stomach and would make him very ill if left. Theo was transferred for emergency surgery via The Children’s Air Ambulance, while being looked after on board by the Embrace Yorkshire and Humber Infant and Children’s Transport Service, part of Sheffield Children’s NHS Foundation Trust. This was the first emergency airlift of its kind to happen with The Children’s Air Ambulance and Embrace teams.
Pilots Shaun Tinkler Rose and Paul Hogan took off in the Agusta 109 Grand helicopter, specially adapted to carry the latest specialist paediatric medical equipment, at 0925 from Coventry Airport. They collected the specialist medical team from Embrace headquarters and travelled to Scarborough Hospital to pick up little Theo. Once Theo was on board, flight time to Hull took just 15 minutes. The Children’s Air Ambulance lead pilot Shaun Tinkler Rose said: “We estimated that by road this journey would have taken over an hour. Our total flight time was only 15 minutes with the patient on board. As we flew along, we could see congested roads and the difficulty a land ambulance would face especially if it needed to travel in rush hour traffic. It’s cases like this where every minute can, and does, count.”
After arriving at Hull Royal Infirmary, Theo underwent a tracheo-oesophageal fistula operation and is now recovering well with no expected complications. Such a swift and efficient move helps reduce stress on both the baby and the parents and quick intervention helps speed recovery.
Dr Stephen Hancock, Lead Consultant for Embrace in charge of Theo’s care on board said: “Embrace were delighted to work with The Children’s Air Ambulance on their first ever transfer, providing the medical and nursing teams to get this baby to a specialist centre where he could undergo surgery. All the teams involved have been working really hard to get to this point and it is gratifying to see the helicopter in the air. This service is so vital because quicker transfer times mean that our medical teams are available to look after more critically ill children.”
As mentioned already, the charity does not receive any Government funding, and relies entirely on public donations. There are many ways you can help support this service and keep it flying. Please visit their website for more information on making a donation, volunteering your time and skills, or taking part in one of their events or partnering with us.