Family’s thanks to ambulance staff

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A family whose baby nearly died after contracting meningitis on Christmas Day 2014 has raised £1,150 for the specialist ambulance that transferred him safely to hospital.

Jacob Dodsworth, now three years old, was rushed to Sheffield Children’s Hospital that day with pneumococcal meningitis – a virus which caused swelling of his brain and spinal cord.

The Ripon youngster, who also had fluid on his brain, was in intensive care for several days while doctors fought to save him, before being transferred to the neurosciences ward where he stayed for four more weeks.

Since being treated at the hospital, Jacob’s family have become dedicated fundraisers for The Children’s Hospital Charity and recently took their efforts to the Thirsk truck show.

“I take my truck to a local show every year,” said Jacob’s 40-year-old dad, Tim.

“There are about 450 wagons and I compete in the ‘best tipper’ category. My wife Jo did a cake stall and tombola over the weekend and managed to raise £1,150.”

While Jacob survived meningitis, the infection caused significant damage to his hearing. He has since been treated by the hearing services department at Sheffield Children’s Hospital. They arranged for him to go to Middlesbrough Hospital where he was fitted with cochlear implants which have vastly improved Jacob’s hearing.

“Jacob is getting along brilliantly now,” said Tim. “He’s got about 50 or 60 words that he’s quite capable of saying – when he feels like it! He’s also learnt to tell us in his own way if one of his implants falls out. He’ll come wandering across and shake his little head to let us know.”

Tim added: “Last year we donated our money straight to the hospital but this year we wanted to give it to the Embrace ambulance service through The Children’s Hospital Charity. They transferred Jacob on that Christmas Day. They’re such a fantastic organisation and we just wanted to give something back to them.”

Each year Embrace’s specialist teams of nurses, advanced nurse practitioners, doctors and drivers transfer more than 2,000 infants and children by road ambulances, helicopters and fixed wing aircraft.

The Children’s Hospital Charity has a long history of fundraising for improvements to critical care transport services. In 1993, the charity donated the first mobile intensive care ambulance, Bear 1 and then raised £120,000 for a second specialist ambulance, Bear 2. When Embrace was set up in 2009 Bear 2 was its first ambulance and since then, the charity has kept the service at the forefront of paediatric care.

After their most recent fundraiser, the Dodsworth family visited Barnsley to take a look at the Embrace ambulance headquarters and meet staff.

“Jacob loved seeing the ambulance,” said Tim. “Show him anything with flashing blue lights and loud sirens and he’s happy. He’s mad for anything with wheels.

“Money raised for Embrace goes towards buying things like sat navs for parents so that they can follow their child in the ambulance and have something to guide them if they get lost,” said Tim. “You don’t realise until you’ve got children that there are services like Embrace out there.”

Karen Spinks, one of the Embrace specialists who transferred Jacob to hospital when he fell ill, said: “It was lovely to see Jacob again and to watch him have a lot of fun on his visit to our base.

“We really appreciate the time and effort that Jo and Tim spent fundraising for Embrace and for coming to see us in person to present their fantastic donation.”

Sheffield Children’s Hospital is one of four stand-alone children’s hospitals in the UK.