Brave little Hunter’s time-critical flight


In 2019, weighing a tiny 2.1 pounds, baby Hunter Tyler was born at 27 weeks.  At that time, Hunter suffered two significant brain bleeds at just a week old, which meant his ventricles were unable to drain correctly.  

The placement of a shunt, which assists Hunter’s body to process the fluid in his ventricles, will stay with him for life however can

 become blocked or infected at any time. “We are very lucky to have made it to 3 years old with no troubles.” Says Jessie, Hunter’s mum. 

“We are always on high alert for any changes in Hunter, or if he alerts us to anything that is wrong.”   

On the evening of 14th February 2022 things did go wrong, and Hunter became unwell.  

“Hunter has a VP shunt and the shunt had disconnected, causing him to be very unwell and in a lot of pain.  We needed to get to Starship Hospital as quick as possible and it would take too long to go via ambulance.”  

Living in Papamoa, Hunter was in Tauranga Hospital.  With the TECT Rescue Helicopter on standby based on site, Hunter with mum Jessie by his side, were soon in the air and on their way to Starship Hospital. 

Jessie recalls the ride “I felt relief that we were on the way to the best place, and in good hands. I already had so much respect for the helicopter crews from when Hunter was born.  But I have even more respect now.” 

“Hunter was transferred to Auckland from Tauranga at around 10 pm.  It was a quick 40 minutes to fly versus 2.5 hours to drive.  Time 

for Hunter was important, as I knew how sick he was” says Jessie. 

“It wasn’t until Hunter had his operation and woke up that I finally felt like he was going to be ok.” 

“He is such a brave, amazing little boy. He is so aware of his head and what happened that day, he blows me away every day. We always knew that VP shunts had a short lifespan in children so the fact we made it to 3 years with no trouble is really good.  We are hopeful this new shunt will last just as long if not more, as I don’t want to have him go through that experience again any time soon.” 

It is patients like Hunter, that Crewman Dave says “We see people at their most vulnerable and raw moments. It’s humbling for us as a crew.”  

And in Jessie’s words of Hunter’s crew that day in February. “I think the work they do is amazing! They are an invaluable service to NZ. Thank you, thank you, thank you! We are so eternally grateful for the service and the lovely crew.”  

And to the donors, Jessie’s message is simple.

“Your donations continue to allow people like Hunter to be taken to life-saving treatments quicker than by road.”