An identical twin who was airlifted to a London hospital as a baby when he needed lifesaving specialist paediatric treatment celebrates his seventh birthday today.
Alex Forrest from Broadstairs was just four-months-old when he was whisked from Margate's QEQM hospital to King's College Hospital by the Children’s Air Ambulance.
Now his mum has praised the charity which she believes saved his life by getting him to the treatment he critically needed.
He had been battling to survive ever since being born 11 weeks prematurely with his twin Niall, weighing just 2lbs 2oz.
But while Niall continued to progress, Alex was forced to battle illness after illness, with every day being a constant uphill struggle.
During his first four months, he spent just five days at home with his loving family, with the rest in specialist care in hospital.
And in April 2014, he was back in his local hospital in Margate when he rapidly deteriorated after developing bronchiolitis and experiencing severe breathing difficulties.
It was then that doctors advised that he needed an urgent transfer to specialist care in London, more than 70 miles away. However due to the severity of Alex’s condition, he needed continuous ventilation.
He was far too vulnerable to make that 70-mile journey by road, especially on a busy Friday afternoon, so the Children’s Air Ambulance came to the rescue.
"My ultimate fear, as I watched him deteriorate, was that we would lose him. I can’t imagine what might have happened if the helicopter hadn’t been there to fly him," said mum Helen.
Working with a specialist paediatric intensive care team from South Thames Retrieval Service, the helicopter flew Alex to the care he so desperately needed in just 28 minutes - a fraction of the time it would have taken by road and with the specialist team looking after him throughout the whole journey.
A week after receiving treatment in London, Alex was able to return to his local hospital and eventually finally go home to his family.
And today he celebrates his seventh birthday with a Harry Potter-themed sleepover party in small tepees with his twin Niall and older brother Harry, nine.
Helen says Alex is now a happy, active boy who is funny, cheeky and caring and enjoys exploring the beach and rocks and playing on his scooter and bike.
She added: "Seven years on, as a family, we are so grateful to the Children’s Air Ambulance for the speed at which they safely got Alex to London that day.
"It was a terribly worrying time but knowing Alex had the best medical care during his transfer by air gave us hope and reassurance."
Vital missions like Alex’s would not have been possible without public support for the Children’s Air Ambulance which relies on public donations to remain operational, and has continued to fly lifesaving transfer missions during this difficult time, providing vital support to the NHS.
For further information on the charity, please visit: www.childrensairambulance.org.uk or call 300 3045 999.