Eight weeks before the birth of her second child, Emma Stevens went on a family camping holiday in Cornwall. Her doctor had told her it was alright to make the trip with her husband Lee, daughter Darcy (14 months) and step-son Mikey (10) so they packed the trailer and set off from their home in Camberley.
They had been away for four days when Emma started having contractions. She was taken to the Royal Cornwall Hospital in Truro by ambulance and three hours later Arthur was born weighing 4lb 9oz at a day over 32 weeks gestation.
As with all premature babies, the first 24 hours were critical and Arthur was kept under close observation in the neonatal unit. He had a feeding tube and was on oxygen.
After two days he was breathing for himself and was taken off oxygen but he still needed the feeding tube.
“The hospital were saying he would have to stay in the neonatal unit until he was at least 35 weeks old but it was impossible for us to stay in Cornwall. It was the beginning of the school holidays and everywhere was booked up and my husband had to get back to work,” explains Emma.
Arrangements were made to get Arthur to a neonatal unit closer to home and when he was five days old he was transferred to Frimley Park Hospital – just 10 minutes away from where the family live.
The Children’s Air Ambulance took off from our Oxford base to collect the NEST Team, a specialist neonatal transport team from University Hospital Bristol NHS Foundation Trust. They then flew to Truro to pick up Arthur.
It took just one hour 35 minutes to fly to Farnborough Airport where a land ambulance was waiting to take Arthur to the neonatal unit at Frimley Park.
“Knowing our baby was in safe hands and was being taken to the local hospital the quickest way possible was a great comfort. Everyone was so professional and explained exactly what was happening, they put our minds at rest. We had every faith in everyone involved in the transfer,” says Emma.
She decided not to fly with her son as her daughter Darcy was too young to travel the 230 miles back home in the car with just her brother and dad driving.
“It took six and a half hours for us to get home. Because of the Children’s Air Ambulance Arthur didn’t have to endure a long road journey. Travelling by helicopter made a huge difference for him. It’s an amazing service and we are so very lucky it was available for us,” says Emma.
When they arrived back home, the family were reunited at Frimley Park and Emma was able to go to the hospital for every feeding time and learn how to bottle feed Arthur, which can be tricky with premature babies.
When he was 22 days old Arthur was discharged and by the time he reached his expected due date – two months after his early arrival into the world – his weight had nearly doubled.
Anyone wishing to find out more about the lifesaving work of the charity can call 0300 3045 999 or visit www.childrensairambulance.org.uk