Thank you for helping baby Harry receive the care he urgently needed


An emergency trip to hospital in April was not the first for then six-week-old baby Harry, who at just nine days old was previously admitted to hospital for similar distressing unexplained symptoms.

It was Easter Saturday in lockdown and Hunterville couple, Sophie and Sam Hurley were far from relaxing over the holiday long weekend. Their infant son, Harry, had been vomiting and unable to keep anything in his tummy since Thursday’s routine immunisation at Plunket. Sophie had been in regular contact with Healthline and Plunket who initially suggested a vaccine reaction was the cause of Harry’s declining health.

Unconvinced the immunisations were solely to blame, Sophie trusted her maternal instinct and persisted. The relentless yellow fluid Harry was throwing up appeared similar to a previous event. Back then, reflux was proposed, however, the precise cause was still a troubling mystery.

This time, Sophie’s persistence paid off and Healthline called an ambulance. During the 111 call, Harry’s health rapidly deteriorated and he passed out.

Alarmed he couldn’t breathe, Sophie began CPR, although she was unsure if her technique was capable of sustaining her son. Understandably terrified Harry wouldn’t survive, Sophie pleaded with the 111 operator who urgently tasked the Palmerston North Rescue Helicopter.

“We felt absolute relief once the chopper arrived”, said Sophie, “As our remote location would have delayed a road ambulance”.

Harry’s parents didn’t know at the time, but Harry had suffered a bowel malrotation. Harry and Sophie were initially flown to Whanganui Hospital, a typically 90-minute drive, yet under 15 minutes by air.

“Time was of the essence; we were told Harry only had six hours before he could have died.”

Harry spent three long hours in Whanganui Hospital. A decision was made to move him to Wellington Hospital for diagnosis and treatment. Transferred by Air Ambulance, Harry underwent a series of tests at Wellington Hospital, which revealed his bowel had twisted resulting in a severe malrotation.

A 20 strong medical team rushed Harry into emergency surgery to unravel Harry’s devastated bowel.

Surgery revealed Harry’s bowel was compromised since birth, explaining the earlier episode in the hospital as a newborn. Surgeons corrected his bowel and removed his appendix, which hadn’t formed in the right region. Based on her experience, Sophie asks that parents be confident in their own instinct;

“I would say to mothers and fathers to trust your gut, he was seen by so many doctors, they all said that yellow vomit was ok. Make people aware of this being new parents. It is not common, but it is out there.”

The Hurley’s express their gratitude for the service and crew on the Palmerston North Rescue Helicopter;

“The Palmerston North Rescue Helicopter medic was so kind and reassuring. We are so thankful for what you do. After everything we have gone through, we can’t thank you enough.