Baby Milli

"I cannot explain how vital the Air Ambulance service is – without them I don't even want to think about what would have happened to us as a family." Claire Smith

It was 5 pm on Monday 27th October 2014, when Claire and Robert Smith of Elmdon, near Saffron Walden, welcomed their daughter Millicent into the world following a text book birth. 

The following morning, Claire was looking forward to spending her first full day at home with her daughter. Claire’s midwife Sue and the community nurse were due to make their first home visit to Milli, with Claire's mum due to visit the new family later that day. 

Rob took the opportunity to pop out for a business meeting, with a promise to be back within a few hours.

Early that afternoon, Sue arrived for the scheduled 24 hour check-up, giving Claire a chance to raise her only concern - that Milli seemed a little sleepy - even for a newborn.  Sue did all her usual checks but whilst doing so started to notice that Milli’s lips were turning blue and then suddenly she stopped breathing completely.

Claire recounted: "You just go into absolute panic - everything just slows down. In that one second you go from being one of the happiest people in the world to suddenly not knowing what to do."

With Claire in shock and disbelief, Sue leapt into action - called for an ambulance and used her resuscitation kit to sustain Milli’s breathing until help arrived.

Claire continued: "I just remember screaming towards the phone whilst the call was being made to the emergency services, 'please can you come', 'please hurry up'.  I was just praying that somebody would come and help us.

“And then suddenly, literally the Air Ambulance landed in the front garden and there were people everywhere. The air ambulance crew came running up the stairs and took over from the midwife who had done an amazing job."

Both the land and Herts Air Ambulance crews had arrived due to Millicent being such a young baby - just 20 hours old. 

On board, the Helicopter Emergency Medical Service (HEMS) team were Pilot Nick Clarkson, Dr Will McGuinness and, on this occasion, two Critical Care Paramedics, Tony Stone and Ben Myer.
Dr Will McGuinness and Tony Stone quickly recognised that Milli had stopped breathing as a result of exceptionally low blood glucose levels. Due to Milli being only hours old and so small, it was impossible to find a vein to place a drip and so life-saving glucose was administered by via the Intraosseous (IO) route. This involved placing a needle directly into Milli’s femur (leg bone) and delivering glucose straight into circulation via the bone marrow.

Claire said: “Ben came over and sat with me and explained everything that was happening. Having someone there to explain to me what was going on was like a lifeline to me - you are terrified beyond belief and they were so reassuring, so calm and so kind.  I will never be able to thank them enough."

Having treated and stabilised Millicent, and to enable her mother to stay beside her, she was taken by land ambulance to Addenbrookes Hospital.  In intensive care, Milli continued to suffer further intermittent episodes where her blood sugar levels dropped severely. An MRI scan (a last resort for new-borns) revealed Milli had hypopituitarism; decreased secretion of hormones from the pituitary gland in the brain. It was the reduced hormone release that had been causing all of Millis symptoms.

Since her ordeal, Milli has been prescribed with medication to enable her to produce the hormones required. Although she will need to take medication for the rest of her life, this will allow Milli to lead a normal and healthy life.

Dad, Robert said: "Everybody concerned has been so kind, so professional and so brilliant in all ways - you just really can't thank them enough. When the chips are down the Air Ambulance and the NHS are second to none.

"Everyone should be aware the Air Ambulance is a Charity. Without public support they wouldn't be here and I hope most people will never need to use them but if they ever do they will be so grateful."

Claire added: "I cannot explain how vital the Air Ambulance service is – without them I don't even want to think about what would have happened to us as a family."