Family back appeal for new Emergency Department!
15-year-old Jael Rowles was a passenger in a car when it was hit head-on by another vehicle in Chesterfield in August 2019. The collision left her unconscious with a severe traumatic brain injury, which was life-threatening for the teenager.
Jael’s family are backing The Children’s Hospital Charity’s appeal to build a new Emergency Department at Sheffield Children’s Hospital after the care she received saved her life.
Remembering the accident, Jael’s mum Priscilla said: “Jael was in the car with her uncle and cousins when they were hit. An ambulance arrived as well as a specialist air ambulance team, who travelled by road from East Midlands Airport to tend to her as the helicopter couldn’t land at night.”
Jael was intubated, ventilated and sedated at the scene, before being rushed to the Emergency Department at Sheffield Children’s Hospital by ambulance. A nationally designated regional Major Trauma Centre for critically ill patients from South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw.
Priscilla continued: “Jael was rushed into Sheffield Children’s Hospital by ambulance and around 20 staff were waiting to meet her as part of the emergency response.”
The assembled group included staff from the Emergency Department, Paediatric Critical Care Unit and surgical team as well as specialists in anaesthetics and neurosurgery. It also included members from the blood bank, radiology team as well as porters.
Dr Clare O’Connell, Emergency Medicine Consultant and Major Trauma Lead at Sheffield Children’s Hospital, explains: “We cannot change the brain injury caused by the initial accident, but all the care after that point is very important to prevent secondary brain injury.
“Time is of the essence in these situations: the quicker the treatment, the better the outcome. The insertion of a breathing tube by the air ambulance doctor was the first important intervention, to control Jael’s breathing and the blood flow within the brain.
“The involvement of a team of consultants from all specialities at Sheffield Children’s once she arrived ensured that Jael was appropriately and rapidly assessed and sent for imaging of her brain and the rest of her body to examine any other injuries.”
Jael then had a CT scan, which revealed the extent of her brain injury, known as a diffuse axonal injury. She was then admitted to the Intensive Care Unit at Sheffield Children’s Hospital, where she had a bolt fitted to measure the pressure in her brain.
She stayed on the Intensive Care Unit for almost two weeks as her conscious level continued to fluctuate and she struggled to sustain her breathing independently. She was then moved onto the High Dependency Unit (HDU) until she could move onto Ward 5, the hospital’s dedicated neurosciences ward.
Dr O’Connell continued: “When Jael woke up and started moving, she made lots of progress in a short space of time. Her initial brain scans showed extensive injuries so it was difficult to predict how well Jael would do. Most of the therapists involved in her care will agree she’s exceeded expectations.”
Jael spent more than 12 weeks receiving treatment on Ward 5 at Sheffield Children’s Hospital before being able to go home. She still currently has some difficulties with her balance, speech and hearing but continues to make strong progress in her rehabilitation and her family hope for a full recovery.
Mum Priscilla added: “We were constantly amazed by the care and dedication of the staff at Sheffield Children’s and the attention they paid to Jael. It is strange to say given the circumstances, but in the middle of such traumatic experiences we felt safe and even at home.
“We were treated with dignity and compassion and we were always listened to. At every stage, we were kept fully informed and the staff took time to ensure we were cared for as well as Jael.”
Jael’s family are now backing The Children’s Hospital Charity £4.5m appeal to transform the Emergency Department at Sheffield Children’s Hospital. It was built to see 32,000 children every year but now sees almost 57,000 every 12 months from across South Yorkshire, Derbyshire and Lincolnshire.
For critically ill patients arriving by ambulance or helicopter, the expansion will create a much-needed larger resuscitation area.
Priscilla added: “Jael has made a remarkable recovery and she seems to have exceeded the expectations of the medical staff. However, her recovery is in no small measure due to the outstanding care she received at Sheffield Children’s Hospital.”
“We’re extremely grateful and the staff need new facilities to help provide the excellent care we’ve seen first-hand. Please join us and help if you can.”
If you would like to support Sheffield Children’s this Christmas, visit www.tchc.org.uk/donate