Harry's story from Winterbourne Gunner

“My son Harry was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma in August 2012 at the age of eight which resulted in him needing his left knee and half his femur replaced with a titanium prosthesis.  He successfully completed his chemo treatment in April 2013 and today, happily, he remains in remission. However...............   Back on 22 March 2014 we needed your help.

Harry was waiting in the playground at Winterbourne Earls Primary School. The bell went for the start of school and somehow Harry, who had been standing next to a fence just chatting with his friends, had turned on hearing the bell but his left foot had got trapped under the fence, his leg twisted and the titanium splint snapped!    I could tell by his screams that this wasn't an ordinary knock his 'bad leg' had taken and asked one of the teachers, who had run over, to phone for the ambulance whilst I tried to calm Harry and see what he had done. Fortunately another mum and a friend of mine, who is also a nurse, came over to help. 

Harry was laying on the ground leaning back on me, my friend lifted up Harry's shorts and we could immediately see that his prosthesis had snapped, it looked like his leg was hinging half way down his thigh!   My friend held his leg and together we comforted and kept Harry still whilst we waited for the ambulance which arrived within 10 minutes.  I explained to the paramedic what had happened, and a little about his history and after a quick examination he gave Harry some pain relief and then called you guys!

The air ambulance landed in the deserted playground. Steve was the paramedic who came over to help Harry and it was explained to us that normally a broken leg would be put in a splint but in Harry's case this couldn't be done because of all the metal work in his leg. Steve then started making phone calls as to which was the best hospital to take him to. By this time it was nearly first break and the children all wanted to come out into the playground, we could see them all eagerly looking at the helicopter! All the while the phone calls were being made Harry was being immensely brave as he had been all through his cancer journey.  I kept thinking it was a good job this had happened where and when it had with my nurse friend here to help and  somewhere the helicopter had a safe and convenient place to land. Another friend of mine had gone off to find my husband, as he was working in Winterslow, and he arrived just as they were getting Harry onto the stretcher to fly him to Salisbury District Hospital. 

Harry was now very calm and not in as much pain as I sat in the helicopter beside him and Steve, who all the while was monitoring Harry, whilst I looked out of the window hoping against hope that he would be able to keep his leg. I had no idea at this point whether they would be able to fix it again.  It only took two minutes to get us to Salisbury Hospital where an ambulance was waiting at the helipad to drive us round to the A&E department.  If Harry had gone by road he would have had a very uncomfortable and longer journey and this would have increased his pain and may well have caused him further injury as his leg could not be stabilised and put in a splint – this would have made the risk of Harry losing his leg very high.

Steve met up with us again in A&E and shortly after that my husband arrived as well with Harry's medical folder. The A&E staff took x-rays straight away and the results caused quite a commotion. Harry was quite unique it turned out, the x-rays were quite horrifying!   Steve stayed with us for a while. I don't recall exactly the conversation, but I remember his smile and the feeling of reassurance. He gave us his card and invited us to visit HQ when Harry was back on his feet. 

The A&E staff worked their magic on Harry and we stayed in the children’s unit at Salisbury with Harry in traction for a further two weeks whilst a new prosthesis was made for Harry who was then transported to the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital at Stanmore, Middlesex, to have the broken prosthesis replaced with the new one. He spent a further two weeks in hospital.  

At the school's annual Figsbury Challenge multi terrain running event in April 2015 we raised £750 which we presented to Steve and the team in November 2015. It was lovely to meet Steve again and for Harry to meet him, as he was pretty out of it the first time! We got to look around the HQ and check out the new helicopter. Whilst we were there they received a shout, so we had to cut our trip short but we did get to see the helicopter take off to go and rescue someone else.  

We cannot thank Steve and all of you at Wiltshire Air Ambulance enough for everything you did for Harry that day and for everything you do, just knowing you’re out there providing such an amazing lifesaving service. We are so lucky to have you guys.”    

Nikki Palmer and family