In July 2020, DSAA airlifted Lily to Bristol Children’s Hospital. She and her mum Charlotte kindly share details of what happened and pay thanks to the crew that played a part in saving Lily’s life.

It was a Monday morning at the start of the summer holidays and I was next door babysitting, when I had a terrible headache and felt sick. A couple of hours later I was sick, so my mum took over the babysitting for me and I went home. I spoke to my dad who helped me get into bed and I went to sleep. That’s the last thing I remember, until about six weeks later.

Apparently, when mum checked on me about an hour after I had gone to bed, she couldn’t get any response so my dad phoned for an ambulance. Three paramedics arrived and explained that they were going to call for the air ambulance. I was taken by ambulance to the nearby school field where the air ambulance met us. The crew on board (Dr James Keegan, Leonie Middle and Pilot Paul Nolan) made sure that I was safe to fly, reassured my mum and agreed that she could go with me in the helicopter.

I was flown to Bristol Children’s Hospital, where they discovered that I had a ruptured arteriovenous malformation (AVM). At around six o’clock in the evening, I was taken into emergency surgery to relieve the pressure on my brain and spent approximately three weeks in intensive care. Following this, I spent six months on the neuro rehabilitation ward receiving physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy and support from the neuropsychology team. I had to learn to swallow, eat, talk and walk again. Unfortunately, I didn’t have many visitors at the time, as there were lots of restrictions in the hospital due to the pandemic, but thankfully my parents were able to stay in Bristol with me. My sister Bea also visited when she was allowed and we used FaceTime a lot.

On 15th January 2021, I was discharged and managed to walk out of the hospital, which had been my goal. In May, I went to Southmead Hospital for surgery to remove the AVM. 18 days later, I made it into school for the final hour of Year 11, which felt amazing – and I also made it to my school prom!

Charlotte adds: Throughout everything that Lily has gone through, she has remained positive and determined. After discharge from hospital, her fatigue and the threat of COVID meant that she didn’t get back into school. However, she worked hard at home and has achieved nine GCSEs and Lily is now back in school part-time studying for her A levels.

The last year has obviously had a huge impact on our family, but we feel truly humbled and grateful to have received the care of both Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance and the NHS. We really don’t know how to thank the people who literally gave us our family back. As a small token, Lily has sold plants that we have grown and her granny has also been busy knitting to raise funds for the charity. Our heartfelt thanks go to you all. Love Lily, Bea, Charlotte and Tim x

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