Being first-time parents, Chloe and Kyle were excited to welcome their baby boy into the world. It was a normal pregnancy and labour, with Waylon being born in Clyde Maternity Hospital in January. However, the uninterrupted bliss was short-lived; “it wasn’t until about 12 hours later that we realised that something was seriously wrong”, Chloe remembers.
Waylon couldn’t feed and was experiencing periodic ‘dusk spells’, where he would turn blue and lose consciousness. The Dunedin Paediatric team was brought to Cromwell, who rushed Waylon to Dunedin Hospital by helicopter. Exhausted and worried, Chloe and Kyle followed by car.
“At this point, we had about one hour of sleep between us in the past 30 hours”, Chloe recalls.
The team diagnosed Waylon’s condition as oesophageal atresia with tracheoesophageal fistula (OA/TOF). Affecting roughly 18 babies per year in New Zealand, OA/TOF is an uncommon congenital disability where the oesophagus (feeding tube) doesn’t form properly. The trachea (breathing tube) is abnormally connected to the oesophagus, causing the liquid to flow into the lungs.
With this prognosis, doctors rushed to find a bed for the two-day-old.
“Sadly, Christchurch NICU was full – I just felt sorry for all of the other parents going through a similar experience”, Chloe recalls.
Luckily, there was a bed in Wellington, so a Life Flight Air Ambulance Plane was dispatched to transfer Waylon and his parents.
“Throughout the whole experience, we just had complete confidence that the nurses and crew were able to look after Waylon. My husband and I were extremely sleep-deprived, so it gave us time on the flight to collect our thoughts and even give us a little bit of peace”.
Dad Kyle wanted to take the time to call out one of our crew members, Phil.
“He was awesome. He just had such knowledge of the plane and apparatus… Phil was instrumental in problem-solving for Waylon on the flight”.
Chloe adds that the whole experience with Life Flight and the Wellington NICU team was excellent.
“From our first meeting with the team from Life Flight right until he was stable in Wellington, they were just phenomenal; they made us feel at ease and gave us as much information as possible”.
After a five-hour operation, Waylon could swallow for the first time. Two weeks later, the new family could fly back home.
“[Waylon] went from strength to strength. The confidence from doctors in his recovery meant that we flew back with Air New Zealand”. However, Waylon is not entirely out of the woods. Still facing some troubles, the family has been back and forth from Christchurch and home and will continue to do so while he grows.
“He’s so happy and relaxed – you wouldn’t know that he’s gone through such a traumatic start”.
For first time parents, Chloe and Kyle are so glad they could have their boy home with them so quickly.
“We love him. He just completes us totally. Words escape me with how grateful we are to have Life Flight as an option for us”.
We were in such a dark place in Dunedin; to learn that there was a plane coming for us was awesome. When we took off on that runway for the first time, we felt positive, like we had a shot at getting him better, so thank you.
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