Patient story: Alfie

Twins Alfie and Blake were born at just 23 weeks at Oamaru Hospital. Alfie’s lungs weren’t well-developed and he struggled to breathe. The next few months were long and complicated.

“I got to 150 consecutive days in hospital before I gave up counting” - mum, Aimee.

Blake came home, but Alfie stayed in Dunedin’s NICU. At eight months old, Alfie caught rhinovirus, which for most people is a common cold, but for Alfie it was serious.

“The doctors in Dunedin told us they'd done everything they could – Alfie needed Starship” - mum, Aimee.

Alfie had developed a lung infection and needed specialised medical care. So the Starship Air Ambulance came to get him. It took some time to stabilise Alfie enough to fly, but the Starship PICU team never left him and eventually got him to Auckland.

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Alfie stayed in Starship for three weeks, with Aimee flying back and forth from Auckland to Dunedin to go home and care for her other children - Blake (Alfie’s twin), Emileigh, 5 and Amelia, 8. During that time, Starship Nurse Teresa constantly sent video and photo messages to Aimee to keep her up-to-date with Alfie’s condition. Aimee says this personal care meant a lot.

After three weeks, Alfie was off sedation, progressing well on high-flow oxygen and stable enough to fly back to Dunedin Hospital.

Today Alfie is back home in Duntroon, Otago. His paediatrician in Dunedin stays in contact with Starship to ensure he’s getting the best care possible. Alfie’s in the process of being weaned off oxygen support during the day with Starship helping guide this transition. Eventually, he’ll come off altogether.

“He’s doing so well on his oxygen now. He’s reducing his oxygen use, and we’re looking forward to him breathing all by himself.”

It’s hard to say what Alfie’s long-term prognosis will be. They’ll know more once he’s a bit older and he starts trying to walk and talk. Aimee and John credit Starship for saving Alfie’s life.

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Read the full Impact Report 2022-2023 here