Sussex baby airlifted to hospital after she stopped breathing is to feature in national charity Christmas appeal

The dramatic story of how a new-born baby from Sussex was flown to a London Hospital for lifesaving treatment is the focus of this year’s Christmas appeal for the Children’s Air Ambulance.

Five-day-old Scarlet Donaldson, from Hastings, stopped breathing six times due to a severe respiratory infection and urgently needed to be transferred from the local Conquest Hospital to St George’s Hospital in London where there is a specialist Paediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU).

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The national Children’s Air Ambulance was mobilised to fly from its base in Oxford to collect a team from the South Thames Retrieval Service (STRS) and fly them to Hastings to accompany Scarlet on the flight to London.

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Single mum Charlotte Donaldson was able to travel in the helicopter with her daughter as it is fitted with a seat allocated for parents.

“If she had to have gone on her own I would have been in panic mode. It was really wonderful to see how she was being taken care of and that she was OK.”

“I felt that Scarlet was in the best hands possible and was being taken to where she would get the best treatment possible. The helicopter was kitted out with all the latest high tech equipment and knowing she was receiving the same intensive care treatment in the helicopter as at the PICU, was a great comfort. This meant she was getting intensive care in the air,” she says.

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It took the helicopter just 24 minutes to fly the 75 miles from Hastings to London.

Scarlet was treated for the infection, her breathing and feeding improved and after five days she was well enough to go back to the local hospital in Hastings by land ambulance – a journey which took just over two hours.

Again Charlotte travelled with her daughter. They stayed at The Conquest Hospital for two days to make sure that Scarlet was completely well before going back home.

She says: “As it is the season of goodwill to all, I am hoping our story will encourage people to support this charity which keeps hope alive for families with critically ill children and babies. Scarlet is living proof of the amazing work they do every day of the year – including Christmas Day.

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“I couldn’t believe how quickly the Children’s Air Ambulance got us to London. Had the helicopter not been available, Scarlet may not have survived the transfer. I feel incredibly grateful that it exists and was available to help my daughter.”

Anyone wishing to find out more about the lifesaving work of the charity can call 0300 3045 999 or visit

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