Lucy Air Ambulance for Children transferred an extremely premature baby suffering from chronic lung disease and pulmonary hypertension and his parents over 450 miles back to a hospital closer to home.

Expectant parents Kerry-Anne and Adam had flown from Edinburgh to visit friends in Portsmouth, 14 1/2 weeks prior to their due date, when the unexpected happened.  It had until then been a textbook pregnancy and they had no reason to assume that they wouldn't go full term with their baby.

On Sunday Kerry-Anne began to feel unwell so decided to rest and visit the doctor when they got home on the Monday. Unfortunately this was not to be, as the pains worsened and she was rushed into Queen Alexandra Hospital. It soon became clear that Kerry-Anne was in labour and the doctors needed to take immediate action to halt the contractions. Patrick was born by natural delivery 3 days later, at a gestation of 26+1 weeks and weighing 2lb 3oz. The doctors were really happy with him and he was settled into the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

Unfortunately Patrick's lungs were not in the best shape and he had to undergo a really aggressive course of antibiotics. He managed to fight off the infection, however he was left with Chronic Lung Disease and Pulmonary Hypertension. His first week in NICU sailed by without incident, apart from needing the odd blood transfusion to boost his blood levels. Week two spelt the end of his honeymoon period and he began to need a lot more help to keep going. He required 95-100% oxygen for 2 weeks and also Nitric Oxide to help to open his lungs further in order to keep his blood oxygen level up. Patrick was then due to undergo a surgical procedure to close the open duct in his heart but thankfully, following a treatment of Paracetamol this closed on its own and within two days he’d stabilised so well that he was taken off the ventilator and moved onto High Flow Oxygen therapy.

As Patrick continued to stabilise and his support was weaned down to very mild level, the consultants began to discuss the possibility of him being moved back to Edinburgh and Lucy Air Ambulance for Children was called into operation to fly the new family home. Flying was the only viable option for Patrick as it would have taken the best part of 9 hours by road with increased risks, the flight was just 90 minutes.

On the day of transfer, Patrick was given his last feed in the morning as he needed to have an empty stomach on the plane. He was placed into a lightweight carbon fibre incubator pod for transfer, featuring the same monitors that he had in hospital, and taken to Southampton Airport to meet the Air Ambulance team.  The flight went smoothly and the family were well looked after by the crew. At one point there was a bit of a scare as Patrick’s oxygen requirement kept creeping up quite significantly but they soon realised it was self-inflicted as Patrick had pulled one of his nasal prongs out! On arrival at Edinburgh Airport they were met by Police and an Ambulance on the tarmac and whisked away to the Simpsons Maternity Unit at Edinburgh’s Royal Infirmary Hospital.

We’re a step closer to home, although we’ve still got a few more steps to overcome before we can think about getting Patrick home He’s doubled his birth weight and he’s starting to get the hang of breast feeding, however he’s still on High Flow and really needs to work on getting off that before we can think of taking him home to meet everyone.

Patrick's Dad Adam