Saving Oliver Berry’s life - Great Western Air Ambulance Charity
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Saving Oliver Berry’s life

Donate blood

The importance of giving blood and the impact it can have on saving someone’s life is clear in Oliver Berry’s story. Great Western Air Ambulance Charity (GWAAC) would like to thank everyone that takes time to donate blood, giving someone like Ollie a second chance at life.

In June 2019, our Critical Care Team were called to Ollie after he was involved in a serious road traffic collision. Ollie had been out on his bike, when he cycled out of a side pathway and collided with a van, causing him significant injuries. Our team on duty that day – Specialist Paramedic James Yates, Trainee Specialist Paramedic Pete Reeve and Doctor Tim Godfrey arrived on scene and saw that Ollie was rapidly losing a lot of blood.

The impact of the collision had resulted in heavy internal bleeding in Ollie’s abdomen and severe damage to his liver. Having lost around 6 pints of blood, the team gave him a blood transfusion with all the blood and plasma they carry on board.

Unlike road ambulances, our Critical Care Team carry two units of O Negative blood and fresh frozen plasma. In situations like this, where every minute counts, administering blood and plasma on scene can stabilize the patient long enough for them to get to hospital.

O negative is used by GWAAC because it is an incredibly valuable blood type that can be given to almost anyone. This is essential when saving people’s lives, as there is not enough time at the scene of an incident to test someone’s blood type.

Having treated Ollie on scene, they knew they had to get him to hospital quickly if he was to have any chance of survival. On route to Southmead Major Trauma Centre Doctor Tim recalls:

‘’On our way in Ollie was extremely unstable, he’d had all the blood products we carry and I remember thinking “We’ve run out blood, what are we going to do now?’’ Looking out of the window, I realised we were just outside Southmead Hospital.

“We gave Ollie all of the blood and plasma we carry; without them I have no doubt he’d have died before we could have got him to hospital. His life was saved because of those blood donors and the kind monetary donations of those who fund us to carry blood.’’

After the incident, Ollie spent weeks in intensive care. However, we are pleased to say he has now made a full recovery. Back in December 2019 we were lucky enough to welcome Ollie and his family to GWAAC’s base to meet the team that had played a part in saving his life.

Ollie says: ‘’Now fully recovered (although very tired), I am delighted to still be here today. I know this is due to the amazing team that treated me. I can never really thank them enough.’’

GWAAC are lucky to work as part of a wider team, without which we would not be able to make such a difference to people’s lives. The blood we carry at GWAAC is specially prepared by the blood bank at Southmead Hospital, North Bristol NHS Trust, and is stored in military grade cooling boxes to ensure it is maintained at exactly the right temperature. The blood supply is replenished every 24 hours by FreeWheelers, also known as the ‘blood bikers’ – a charity who collect new blood from Southmead Hospital, deliver it to the air base and then pick up and return any unused blood back to the hospital so it can be used (to ensure that none of the blood products are ever wasted). Both of these services and everyone that donates blood are crucial in helping us save lives. To find out more about becoming a blood donor visit: https://www.blood.co.uk/

As a charity, we receive no day-to-day funding from the Government or National Lottery and need to raise over £4 million each year to stay operational. This means we rely on the generosity of our donors and supporters to keep flying. Without this support we would not be able to help people like Ollie.

Ollie continues: ‘’I will always look to support this charity. From experience you really never know when you may need them – thank you so much.’’

Find out how you can support your local air ambulance here: https://greatwesternairambulance.com/how-to-help/