Leya was born with breathing difficulties, but at just two months old she suddenly stopped breathing.
A first responder from the ambulance service was tasked to the family home in Bude, where Leya was critically ill.
Facing over an hour’s drive to the nearest hospital, Cornwall Air Ambulance was requested. The helicopter landed at Bude Rugby Club on 13 June 2014.
Casey Raper, Leya’s mother, said: “When someone told me the air ambulance was on it’s way panic set in, as I realised how serious the situation was. At that moment I thought I was going to lose my child, it’s the scariest thing I’ve ever been through.”
Paramedics from Cornwall Air Ambulance helped to stabilise Leya, and she was put into the helicopter alongside Casey for the trip to Derriford Hospital.
“I can’t put into words how amazing the team were, they kept me calm and put my mind at ease. They were checking on Leya throughout the journey. It was so quick, we got to Derriford Hospital in about 20 minutes, rather than 90 minutes by road. The doctors said if she hadn’t got in as quickly it might be a different story. They were like guardian angels coming in the helicopter; thank you never seems enough.”
Leya had a tracheostomy fitted and remained in hospital for months. Six years on and Leya is now tracheostomy free, but still has airway issues to contend with.
That doesn’t stop her from enjoying life like any other six-year-old. During lockdown, Leya has been making bracelets to sell for the air ambulance and so far, has raised an incredible £1,000.