In December 2020, Shelby Banks was 36 weeks pregnant and began suffering from severe pains in her ribs. Having been through pregnancy before, she knew that these were not normal labour pains and that something wasn’t quite right. Together with her partner Matthew, they tell us more…

The air ambulance was called in

It was 4th December and Shelby was in extreme pain, so we decided to go to our local hospital, which is St Mary’s Hospital on the Isle of Wight. After only a few minutes of being there, the doctors identified that Shelby needed specialist treatment at Princess Anne Hospital in Southampton. Given the urgency of her condition, the doctors decided that the fastest and safest way to get there was by air ambulance, so the team at Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance (DSAA) were called to help.

Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance AW169 yellow helicopter at southampton hospital helipad

Shelby added:

I was so nervous; not only about the potential risk to me and my baby’s life, but also the thought of having to fly in a helicopter as I have a fear of heights. At the time, I had so many thoughts whirling around in my head. Once the air ambulance arrived, the team took their time to make me feel safe and secure me within the helicopter. They went through all the safety procedures and then we lifted. During the very quick journey to hospital, the crew kept checking that I was ok and that I felt comfortable; they even pulled a few light-hearted jokes, which really helped to distract me at the time.

Shelby underwent an emergency operation

Once Shelby arrived at University Hospital Southampton, an ambulance was waiting to transport her to Princess Anne Hospital nearby. After examination, it was found that Shelby was suffering from severe polyhydramnios. This is when there is too much amniotic fluid surrounding the baby in the womb.

Our baby was suffering from hydrops congenital chylothorax, which had caused a lung to collapse and the heart and diaphragm to move to the wrong side of the body. We were told that the baby only had a 2% chance of survival and the team at Southampton had to act quickly. Shelby underwent an emergency operation led by Dr Howe and his team.

Following a successful emergency caesarean section, our beautiful baby girl arrived safe and well. We decided to name her Evelyn, which means ‘wished for’ and we gave her the nickname Evie, meaning ‘life’, as despite the odds, she was born safely and given immediate attention. After an agonising 19 days before even being able to hold her and several weeks of care and appointments at hospital, Evelyn eventually came home.

Baby Evelyn is doing really well

Family photo with baby Evelyn

Now over one years old, our miracle that is Evelyn is doing really well. She is reaching all her milestones and leading a normal life. We were so lucky to have the help of DSAA when time was of the essence and Shelby needed specialist care. The team were a key factor in saving Evelyn’s life and we cannot thank them enough for all their hard work.

Sharing our story is something that we really wanted to do. Especially as there will be many people like us, who don’t realise how much of a crucial part air ambulances play in helping such a variety of medical emergencies; ours being just one. From the bottom of our hearts, thank you so much!

The DSAA team that attended Shelby’s incident were: Lauren Dyson, Dave Martin, Matt Taylor and Scott Armstrong.

If you've been inspired by Matthew and Shelby's story and would like to help us to continue saving lives, we would be grateful to receive your donation. No matter how big or small, every penny donated really will make a big difference! Thank you.

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NEXT: Read Angela and Issy's Story