Skip to content

Mom Gives Birth Prematurely After Car Crash

She had an emergency C-section after the traffic collision.

A pregnant mom had her tiny 2lb baby early – after she was in a car crash.

Hannah Tuffnell, 32, was having a normal and healthy pregnancy when she was involved in a road traffic collision.

She was stuck by another car in her home town of Redruth in Cornwall last May – and says from that moment she knew something wasn’t quite right.

Hannah went to the Royal Cornwall Hospital and an ultrasound revealed her baby’s heart rate wasn’t as expected.

Hannah was prepped for surgery within an hour and Isabella Hirst was delivered on May 29 by an emergency cesarean – weighing just 2.2lbs.

Speaking about the aftermath of the crash, Hannah said: ”There was a change.

”I began having reduced movements, so I knew I needed to get checked out at the hospital.

Hannah with Isabella. Hannah went to the Royal Cornwall Hospital and an ultrasound revealed her baby’s heart rate wasn’t as expected. PHOTO BY CHILDREN AMBULANCE TRUST/SWNS 

“She wasn’t sounding right. Her heartbeat was there, but staying there, not going up or down, which you would expect.”

She was born at 28 weeks so clinicians blue-lighted Hannah and Isabella to Southmead Hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) in Bristol for further care.

Clinicians found that due to her underdeveloped lungs from being born pre-term, and the additional oxygen Isabella needed, as well as the continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) – a type of respiratory support – she had suffered extensive lung damage.

After two and a half weeks in the NICU, arrangements were made to transfer Isabella back to the hospital in her hometown where she could be closer to her family.

Because of its new incubator system Children’s Air Ambulance transported her home.

On 13 June, the helicopter took off from its Gamston base and flew to Bristol to pick up a specialist retrieval team from South West Neonatal Advice and Retrieval (SoNAR) – a team which works closely with NICUs in the South West to ensure that infants requiring specialist care can be safely and promptly transferred to the appropriate hospital.

The specialist neonatal team prepared fragile Isabella for her flight home, making her comfortable in the bespoke incubator.

Hannah was utilizing the parent seat onboard the AgustaWestland 169 helicopter – for the 172-mile southbound journey to Treliske.

It took just 55 minutes for Hannah and Isabella to reach the Royal Cornwall Hospital – a journey which would have taken almost three hours by road.

“I was terrified when they said Isabella would be airlifted, but as soon as I knew I could use the parent seat onboard, and that I could be close to her in the incubator system, I soon felt comfortable as I knew I would be there in case anything happened to her,” says Hannah.

Hannah with Isabella. Hannah went to the Royal Cornwall Hospital and an ultrasound revealed her baby’s heart rate wasn’t as expected. PHOTO BY CHILDREN AMBULANCE TRUST/SWNS 

“The SoNAR team and the TCAA pilots were so reassuring and fantastic with us, they talked me through the whole procedure for getting her home and they got us back home a lot quicker than it would have taken by land ambulance,” she adds.

Isabella spent a further two and a half months in the local hospital’s neonatal unit and is now home where she uses an oxygen tank as she’s living with chronic lung disease.

“Despite living with chronic lung disease, Isabella is such a calm and happy baby and we’re very lucky to have her back home with us.

”We have two more children, and if it wasn’t for the Children’s Air Ambulance, we wouldn’t have got home as quickly to become a family unit again,” explains Hannah.

The Children’s Air Ambulance isn’t government or NHS funded and relies on public support to raise the £3,600 needed for each vital transfer mission.

Because of being there for the Hirst family’s moment of need, Hannah and her family participate in the charity’s lottery.

“SoNAR were fantastic and the TCAA pilots gave Isabella a lovely keepsake certificate, book, and teddy bear for when she’s old enough to understand.

“Once Isabella can go outside a lot more, we would love to fundraise, as what TCAA does is amazing – you don’t understand until you need it, it’s not being funded, it’s truly amazing what they do for children,” she concludes.

Speaking on behalf of the charity, Head of Operations Alfie Daly adds: “The Children’s Air Ambulance charity is continually looking at ways to increase support to the NHS and the clinical teams we work alongside – being there for 200 patients like Isabella and her family is the reason we operate, and I am so glad we could get her home and know she’s doing well since her transfer.

“On Christmas Day, TCAA transferred a patient to Newcastle Freeman Hospital for a heart transplant showing how vital our service is, and our dedicated team of Pilots, Crew Members, Airdesk Coordinators and the Clinical Partner Teams we work alongside have made a crucial difference again this year.”

Produced in association with SWNS Talker

“What’s the latest with Florida Man?”

Get news, handpicked just for you, in your box.

Check out our free email newsletters

Recommended from our partners