The last time our team saw little Sophie Dobbin was when she fell ill at home while waiting for open-heart surgery. Mum, Jackie tells us more...

Sophie was born with a heart condition called ‘Tetralogy of Fallot’. This is a condition where
there are four defects to the heart. She was awaiting open-heart surgery; something that was planned once Sophie reached a weight of 11kg.

On 22nd February 2018, just before her first birthday, Sophie had gone to bed as normal but woke up struggling to breathe and making an awful noise, so we called for an ambulance. The first to arrive was a paramedic in a car, shortly followed by a land ambulance.

Upon examination, the paramedics told us that Sophie was suffering with croup and because of her heart condition, the best place to treat her needs was Bristol Children’s Hospital. With a journey time of nearly an hour and a half, the air ambulance was requested.

Much of that night is a blur, but I remember the air ambulance crew arriving and that there were a lot of people in the front room of the house. It wasn’t chaotic, however, and everyone was so calm and reassuring. Sophie was given medication, then wrapped up and we were taken to the waiting helicopter. We were flown to the helipad at Southmead Hospital and then blue-lighted by ambulance to Bristol Children’s Hospital. When we arrived, Sophie was taken to the accident and emergency department and given a nebuliser to help her breathe.

Once she was stable, she was placed on a ward where she stayed for a total of five days.
I’m pleased to say that she recovered well from the croup and has since had her open-heart surgery, albeit not the way we had planned. She used to have weekly saturation and weight checks from our community nurse.

One Friday, Sophie was well in herself, but her saturations were a little on the low side, so we were advised to go to Musgrove Park Hospital to be checked over. At hospital, they monitored her for a few hours but her sat levels did not pick up, so they called for the watch team to take us to Bristol. There, she was put on oxygen and settled overnight.

The following day, her levels continued to drop, so they decided that her surgery needed to be done sooner than planned. She went down at 10.00pm on the Saturday evening and came back out at 4.00am on Sunday morning. Although this was an extremely worrying time for us all, the six-hour emergency operation went well. We are delighted to be able to share our happy ending story with others and say thank you for such a wonderful service. We have so much to thank the air ambulance and all the NHS staff for, as without them, our little girl would not be here.

Sophie turned three years old on March 3rd 2020. She touched so many hearts when she paid a visit to our airbase with mum, dad and granny, to meet some of the team who played a part in her care when she was airlifted to hospital. What a brave, inspirational little girl!

NEXT: Kenn's story

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