Mum of two Abi Rowley from East Cowes can’t thank The Children’s Air Ambulance (TCAA) enough for helping to make all her wishes come true, after the charity flew her precious son Jack on a journey that helped to save his life.
Following the successful mission, Jack will be enjoying his first Christmas at home with his whole family this year and now the Charity is appealing to the public to help them grant even more wishes at Christmas.
At four weeks old, Jack was admitted to St Mary’s Hospital with suspected Bronchiolitis. He was not feeding properly and more frighteningly he was struggling to breathe. After four days in hospital he was still not stable, and a specialist consultant from Southampton General Hospital came to assess Jack’s condition.
On the morning of 11th April 2014 the consultant sent Jack for an ultrasound and echocardiogram to assess the structure and function of Jack’s heart. Abi and her husband Mike then received some terrifying news.
“We were so lucky, as the consultant from Southampton is only ever over from the mainland one day each month. But we were told that these tests revealed Jack had a series of serious heart conditions that he would need emergency specialist surgery to correct, and that this couldn’t be done on the Isle of Wight.”
Immediately Jack’s doctors on the Isle of Wight made a call to Southampton and Oxford Retrieval Team (SORT) to arrange urgent transportation for him. They knew straight away that this journey by road, and then by ferry, to Southampton would be far too stressful for Jack. Therefore SORT requested the support of TCAA to facilitate the move as quickly as possible.
Within just 3 hours of the call, The Children’s Air Ambulance had collected and flown SORT specialists from the mainland to pick Jack up from the Island, prepared him for flight and completed the transfer. Transferring Jack by air kept his time out of hospital to an absolute minimum. His actual flight time was just 8 minutes.
Jack’s parents, Abi and Mike followed him to the mainland by car, having to wait an agonising hour after missing the ferry by a matter of minutes.
“The whole journey was a bit of a blur. All we wanted was to be at Jack’s side. It was an incredibly stressful time, but we knew that the helicopter transfer gave him the best chance of survival. We feel that if TCAA had not been there for Jack, he might not have survived.”
TCAA helicopter can reach speeds of up to 185mph and is not affected by road congestion, particularly in busy holiday periods, such as it was when Jack needed their support. TCAA can travel around four times faster than the same journey by road. In many cases time saved is a life saved.
Richard Clayton, Head of Operations for TCAA says:
“Jack’s story is incredible and we are all very proud that we were able to help him, and many other critically ill children in their greatest hour of need. Our Charity receives no Government funding, therefore we rely entirely on public donations to keep our helicopter flying and keeping hope alive for these fragile patients and their families.”
After surgery Jack spent 10 days recovering in hospital before Abi and Mike were allowed to take him home. He has attended regular check-ups since returning home and is growing up very fast. Now he’s a happy, healthy 8 month old boy who loves to explore everything. He has an older brother, five year old Charlie, and they are the best of friends. They are all now looking forward to enjoying a very special Christmas together next month.
This Christmas TCAA is appealing to the public to support their Christmas Wishes Appeal to help grant more wishes like Abi’s and help ensure that critically ill children are where they need to be this holiday season. They are asking for donations to help keep their vital service running, by visiting www.theairambulanceservice.org.uk/jack or calling 08454 130999
Supporters can also leave a little Christmas message for Jack, and other children helped by TCAA when visiting the website.