Life Flight

Each week 28 people need time-critical aeromedical care. With your support, the Westpac Rescue Helicopter and Air Ambulance Planes are there in their moment of need.

Meet Avitaj from Kāpiti


An emergency caesarian at Wellington Hospital brought baby Avitaj into the world while Dad waited nervously for the news. “All I know is I heard the first cries of the baby, I was sitting next to my wife. We were both very happy. I was like, ‘Oh he’s alive!’ We were told that he might not be.”

With Mum, Harchand, in recovery post-operation it quickly became clear that something was wrong with their newborn as the medical team began working on him immediately. “At that time, we didn’t know what was happening. We just knew that he was very sick.”

Dilpreet found out the right side of Avitaj’s heart was growing bigger than the left because his arteries weren’t wired in the right way. Blood was being pumped straight back into the heart through the liver – a birth condition known as large congenital AV malformation associated with high output cardiac failure. Things were unraveling very quickly and baby Avitaj needed to get to Starship Hospital as soon as possible to be operated on by their specialist neonatal team.

The only option was to airlift Avitaj to Starship Hospital, where the Neonatal Cardiac Surgery team is located. This didn’t come without risk however, as surgeons told Dilpreet there was a possibility his baby may not survive the flight; he had to prepare for the worst.

Dad and baby were taken to the Life Flight base at midnight while Mum was cared for in Wellington Hospital. From there, they were flown to Auckland in Life Flight’s Air Ambulance Plane while Dilpreet watched over his son anxiously the entire time – fighting the battle alongside him. “That was just an hour-long flight, but for me it was second by second.” Dilpreet knew how critical the flight was to his son’s survival.

They got to Starship Hospital just in time, where Avitaj was taken straight in for life-saving surgery.

I was very lucky to have been in Wellington because without that flight it’s obvious that my son would have not survived.

– Dilpreet, Avitaj’s Dad

Three surgeries later, Dilpreet, Harchand and baby Avitaj returned to their home in Kāpiti. Thanks to you, Avitaj is now a happy, bouncing baby, turning one in July.

The family are very close after their shaky start and are extremely aware of how precious life is. Dilpreet says, “This whole experience taught me a lot about what life is. You never know what can happen. We were very happy those nine months. We decorated Avitaj’s room and all those things. But little did we know that we won’t be using those things for another two months, that we would be in hospital. We’d even booked the photographer for the newborn shoot. You just can’t take life for granted. You have to live in each and every moment.”

Thank you for your generous support which made Avitaj’s life-saving flight possible.

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