Christmas will be extra special for Jess and Jamie Howells this year, as they celebrate their son Jack’s third Christmas – something they feared they would not see nine months ago after Jack suffered a catastrophic head injury.
In February, every parent’s worst nightmare came true when 13-month-old Jack toppled over and hit his head on the floor.
At first, Jess, 29, and Jamie, 36, of Cross Hands, Carmarthenshire, put it down to a typical toddler accident and thought he would feel better after a few kisses and cuddles. Jess’s intuition told her that something was wrong, and soon after, Jack became disorientated and tired, so they immediately decided to take him to A&E to get checked over.
Unfortunately, while on route, Jack took a dramatic turn for the worse and he started vomiting, so they pulled over and immediately dialled 999. His condition deteriorated rapidly, and Jack continued being sick and became pale, floppy, and unresponsive.
Llanelli First Responders and paramedics were called, and due to the severity of Jack’s condition, called for the support of Wales Air Ambulance.
The adverse weather that day meant the critical care teams were operating out of the Charity’s fleet of rapid response vehicles, instead of the helicopters.
On arrival, Dr Mike, and Critical Care Practitioner Rhyan, were worried that Jack had a bleed on the brain. To protect his brain and to give him the best possible chance of survival, the crew gave Jack a general anaesthetic, medication to help minimise the bleed and placed him on a ventilator to control his breathing.
Jess explaining the horror situation said:
“As parents, what we were experiencing was something that would only happen in a
nightmare. We gave him a kiss so that he knew we were with him, and it was at that point that we saw the tiny neonatal ventilator kit. Jack looked so small and fragile.
“We were unable to travel with him but received a police escort. We didn’t know if he would survive. Before setting off, they gave us an opportunity to say goodbye. The journey seemed like the longest of our lives.
“I still remember how cold I felt, which obviously would have been down to the shock. When we arrived in the University of Wales Hospital in Cardiff, we had no idea if our baby boy had survived the journey or not.
“We were greeted by a room full of staff ready and prepared to treat our baby. Jack looked so small when he was being wheeled in on an adult sized trolley. He was covered in so many tubes and wires that from further away you would have thought they were just wheeling in a trolley of equipment, but our boy was amongst it all, fighting for his life.”
Jack had suffered a large bleed on the brain and had fractured his skull and required emergency neurosurgery. Thankfully, the operation was a success, but Jack was not yet out of the woods and was treated in intensive care.
“We didn’t know whether Jack would suffer long-term brain damage,” continued Jess.
“Initially we were told he would be sedated and ventilated for 72 hours to allow his brain some time to heal. However, within 48 hours, he was awake and off the ventilator.
“It took him a long time to wake up but when he eventually opened his eyes, the first thing he said despite swelling to his vocal cords from the ventilator, was ‘mam’ – It was such a relief to hear him speak and I was emotional that he still knew who I was.”
Since the accident, Jack has continued to thrive and is reaching all his milestones.
“To think we may not have been able to celebrate Jack’s second birthday and Christmas doesn’t bear thinking about. It could have been so different for us, and we are so lucky we still have our little boy here. We will forever be indebted to the Wales Air Ambulance.
“Jack is definitely going to be spoilt and it’s going to be lovely as he will be spending time with his two half-sisters as well, but I am sure we will all be reflecting how fortunate we are.
Both Jess and Jamie, of Drefach near Cross Hands, have benefited from the Wales Air Ambulance’s Aftercare Service, in particular speaking to Patient Liaison Nurse, Jo Yeoman.
“Jo has been wonderful, and it has been good to know the series of events, especially as everything seemed such a blur,” said Jess.
It is great that the Wales Air Ambulance has been there for us following Jack’s accident and it has gradually helped me come to terms what happened.
Jo Yeoman, Wales Air Ambulance Patient Liaison Nurse, said:
“My role as Patient Liaison Nurse is to support patients and their families after what is usually a very sudden and life altering event.
“I meet and talk with astounding families every day; Jack’s family being one of them. The treatments Jack received would usually only be available within a hospital setting, but thanks to the advanced clinicians onboard Wales Air Ambulance, he received lifesaving treatments on scene.
“We are delighted to see how well Jack has recovered and hope he has the most magical
The air ambulance service in Wales is delivered via a unique Third Sector and Public Sector
Partnership. The Wales Air Ambulance Charity relies on public donations to raise the £11.2 million required every year to keep the helicopters in the air and rapid response vehicles on the road.
The Emergency Medical Retrieval and Transfer Service (EMRTS) supplies highly skilled NHS
consultants and critical care practitioners who work on board the Charity’s vehicles.
Jess added: “Many people don’t realise that the Wales Air Ambulance is a Charity, and although we’ve been supporters for many years, we never imagined that one day, we would need the service and would save our little boy’s life.
“Wales Air Ambulance has given us the greatest gift of all this Christmas. They have given us Jack and have given him a future.
The Charity has today launched their Christmas Appeal, Jack’s Christmas Wish, which has been supported by The Howells Family.
“From now on, every Christmas Eve, when Jack is looking up at the sky for Santa and his reindeers, he’ll be looking for the Wales Air Ambulance helicopter too, knowing they helped save his life.
“Many children will ask Santa for toys, but it is Jack’s Christmas wish that the Charity can continue saving lives and helping people.
If you would like to support the Charity and help them save more lives like Jack’s this Christmas, you can donate by visiting walesairambulance.com/achristmaswish.
[Lead image: Wales Air Ambulance]
Minister visits Llanelli’s Coedcae school to unveil new Wales-wide maths and literacy improvement plan
An evening of entertainment with Dan Biggar coming to Swansea
New look for Victoria Gardens children’s play area is completed
Council agrees sale of sprawling former asylum in Carmarthen
Search continues for missing Nantgaredig woman
Three arrests after Mount Pleasant home attacked with ‘weapons’
Clydach school shares community hub success story
Key back in contention for Swans as Bolasie targets debut in Leeds
Celebrity MasterChef winner Wynne Evans hosts banquet at Old Point House to celebrate PDO status for its laverbread
Swans sign former Crystal Palace winger Yannick Bolasie
Popular Swansea pub set for grand re-opening after £279,000 makeover
Refurbished Llansamlet Go Outdoors store gets ready to reward shoppers at opening event
New light being shone on popular seafront promenade
Funding boost for Mumbles women’s fashion shop
Work completed on River Tawe pontoon
Aldi Fforestfach celebrates grand opening with help from Paralympian
Specsavers to invest more than £400,000 in new Mumbles store
Castle Square transformation takes new step
Rhod Gilbert chooses Llansteffan Beach for Stand Up To Cancer filming location
Photo treasure trove charts key decades in Swansea’s rich history
Business7 days ago
Plans submitted for sustainable aviation fuel plant in Port Talbot
Sport7 days ago
Record medal haul for Welsh Martial Arts competitors at World Championships
Resolven7 days ago
Resolven teen charged with stabbing 16-year-old boy
Morriston7 days ago
Five Swansea play areas set for a makeover
Port Talbot7 days ago
£27m granted for projects to regenerate Port Talbot and restore historic bridge
Llanelli5 days ago
Scarlets and Ospreys announce team for West Wales Derby
Bridgend2 days ago
Independent pharmacy chain pick up former Lloyds pharmacy branches
Dyfed Powys Police5 days ago
Trimsaran ‘deluded and ill-tempered’ driver who ‘used car as a weapon’ is jailed