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Stefan’s emergency flight over the Remutaka Ranges

A routine tonsillectomy turned into an emergency transfer from Masterton to Wellington for four-year-old Stefan, his mum, and baby sister.
Four year old boy on stretcher with paramedic in the background

After a routine tonsillectomy operation at Hutt Hospital, four-year-old Stefan was discharged home to the Wairarapa after a night in hospital with his Mum Joanne.  

Joanne recalls the medical team did warn of side effects such as post tonsillectomy bleeds that may happen around day 10 but reassured her these weren't very common, there was a 1 in 100 chance this could happen. 

Stefan had been home with his siblings for a couple of days when he came over to his Mum to ask for a snack, Joanne could see blood in his mouth, Stefan told her he kept spitting blood. 

Joanne wasted no time in phoning their GP, who said to take Stefan straight to hospital.  She quickly loaded Stefan and his baby sister into the car and headed to Masterton Hospital. 

Soon after arriving in A&E, Joanne heard the medical team discussing that it would be quicker to get the Westpac Rescue Helicopter rather than risk travelling via road ambulance and getting stuck in traffic. 

Joanne heard the call being made requesting the helicopter, she said it felt like 10 to 15 minutes and the Life Flight crew were there in the room with them. 

Joanne recalls she panicked as had her baby with her who was fully breastfed, she thought she was going to have to choose between Stefan and her young daughter.  The crew were amazing and reassured Joanne that she could bring her baby too and went and found some earmuffs for her.  They gave Stefan some pain relief and made sure Joanne and both children were calm before they took off for Wellington. 

Stefan spent four days in Wellington Hospital, his pain levels increased significantly, and he suffered high temperatures, it took some time to get him eating again, but thankfully no further surgery was required.  Joanne says -

Living in the Wairarapa, Life Flight’s service is much needed, we’re very grateful.  The way the crew composed themselves really helped.  They were calm and thorough. They were kind to us. The fact that they could let me bring my baby too, saved a lot of stress and heartache.