'Our Emergency Department Heroes'
In September last year, Amy and Tim’s worst nightmare became a reality when they woke to find their 11 month old son Rory lying unconscious in his cot, gasping for breath. Rory had suffered a bleed to the brain and needed critical emergency care. In this story, Amy recounts their heart-wrenching experience, and how the outstanding Emergency Department team came to the rescue in their hour of need.
‘In our darkest hour with our youngest son, we found ourselves gathered up and embraced by the Emergency Department Team at Bristol Children’s Hospital.
‘Leaving the ambulance to arrive at the Emergency Department at about 8:00am on a normal Sunday morning, still with no idea how serious the situation was, we entered the department to see about 20 doctors and nurses waiting around an adult sized bed to receive my baby boy.
‘At that precise moment my heart fell out of my body with fear. This was serious.
‘We had woken up at about 7:00am that morning. But we couldn’t wake 11 month old Rory. His breathing was extremely laboured. He had had a seizure (which we hadn’t even recognised as a seizure but we knew it wasn’t right) and he remained asleep in my arms, every gasping breath a workout.
‘I don’t think I’d ever put Rory on a single bed before, but he looked tiny, fragile, vulnerable and so desperately poorly as I lay him down and stepped back.
‘A nurse immediately stepped up and stood next to me, hugging me, holding me up.
‘Then, the orchestra began. I remember a man standing at the top of the bed directing the waiting team, taking control and trying to find out what had happened to Rory.
‘He would ask a member of the team to step forward, do something, and step back. Then someone else to step forward, investigate, answer questions then step back. Experts darted in, did what they had to, then stepped back to await further instructions. The efficiency with which they operated was nothing short of astonishing.
‘The nurse who had been holding me up explained that not everyone gathered there would be needed. Everyone was there in case they were needed so no time would be lost bleeping them throughout the hospital.
‘At one point, the door opened and more people flooded around Rory’s bed. I remember thinking “Oh, it must be shift change” quickly followed by “what a strange place to have the door” as it was right next to the bed. It took a long time to realise this was even more people arriving to help Rory.
‘I don’t remember Rory going away for a CT scan but I think we were ushered into a side room while Rory went off. I changed out of my pyjamas into clothes that we’d been advised to bring - it’s amazing how wrong it feels to be in baggy, old, wrong season Christmas pj’s in a crisis - and our eldest son was brought into us (he’d been happily playing with a nurse in reception up until this point. When my husband arrived in ED and was welcomed with a “are you Rory’s dad? I’ll look after your son you go through”, that was the moment he lost his heart to fear).
‘We signed a consent form. He needed life saving brain surgery and he needed it now. We would have signed our own lives away at this point in time.
‘We were taken back to Rory’s bed where the team was smaller but looked… I can’t explain it. Fearful? Pitying? They sound too negative. It wasn’t a negative experience. I think they had an understanding of just how serious this situation was. I still thought we’d be going home that night. Or I was dreaming.
‘I remember asking questions of a man standing above Rory’s head. He answered. We talked. I suddenly realised that his hand was moving, clenching and unclenching. Oh my, he was breathing for Rory. Stop asking him questions and let him concentrate.
‘We all kissed Rory goodbye and he was passed into the hands of the neurosurgery team. We were told his operation would be about 3 hours.
‘We took the ED team’s advice and (perhaps unbelievably) left the hospital for a coffee - the worst one of our lives.
‘Turns out we didn’t leave hospital that night but six months later.
‘Now our beautiful, happy, singing and dancing Rory has now been home six months too. We are close to hitting our one year trauma anniversary and celebrating the progress he’s made.
‘The Emergency Department Team at Bristol Children’s Hospital saved our sons life. No question. It was the end of their shift and yet we had no idea they’d already been at work for 12 hours. We arrived about 7.55 and their shift was due to end at 08:00. They’d been up all night tending poorly children. And in the worst possible moment of our lives, there they were, at their best. Professional. Human. Heroes.
‘Thank you doesn’t even come close. But their smiles when we returned to show off Big Roar’s grin hopefully helps in ways the words Thank You can’t.
‘Please donate to The Grand Appeal so they can support the hospital and all the families going through dark times. Until you’ve been there you just have no idea of the miracles behind that colourful sculpture’.
Almost a year on and Rory is back at home. He has hemiplegia (paralysis of one side of the body) as a result of his injury however, with the help of the wonderful teams at BCH, is making incredible progress. Amy and Tim have now raised over £6,000 to help other families who will be cared for by the remarkable teams at Bristol Children’s Hospital. If you would like to donate in honour of brave Rory, please head to there Just Giving page.