Baby John was just three days old when he collapsed at home in Mullion. John’s mum, Jemma, vividly recalls the day her baby collapsed.
“He hadn’t been feeding well, so I called the midwife,” says Jemma. “Whilst she was with us, John collapsed. It was so fortunate it happened whilst she was there as she knew what to do, phoning the ambulance and helping John whilst keeping me calm.
“When the paramedics arrived they started treating John and it was clear he needed to get to hospital quickly. They didn’t think he would make it to hospital by road so they called for the air ambulance.”
Onboard that day was pilot Phil Merrit, paramedics Mick McLachlan and Mark Fuszard and Dr Dave Ashton-Cleary.
“The doctor and paramedic onboard cared for John so well. There was no way to tell what was going on inside his little body, but they were so caring, which helped me feel reassured that somehow he would be OK. They were brilliant – just brilliant.”
The flight to Treliske took less than 15 minutes.
After John was stabilised by teams at the Royal Cornwall Hospital Treliske he was transferred to the Bristol Royal Hospital for Children for specialist treatment.
“He had keyhole surgery to open his aortic valve which hadn’t formed properly, meaning his blood wasn’t moving as it should. After two weeks in intensive care, we were allowed home, but within days John was back in hospital as the valve was narrowing.
“At four weeks old, John underwent open heart surgery, and at six weeks he had more surgery to fit a biological valve. He was the second youngest child ever to have the procedure at the hospital, and surgeons said his heart was the size of a small walnut.”
After this lifesaving surgery John was allowed home.
“When it all happened we faced a very real chance he wouldn’t make his first birthday. To look at him now you’d just think he’s a totally normal little boy. You wouldn’t know what he’s been through.”
“We always see the air ambulance in this neck of the woods,” said Jemma, “but you never think you’ll need it yourself. If it hadn’t been for the air ambulance I don’t know if John would be here today.
“Everyone involved was fantastic – from the midwife and land ambulance paramedics to the hospital teams at Treliske and Bristol – but it was Cornwall Air Ambulance that got him there in time.”