A toddler airlifted from Truro after a common childhood illness caused life-threatening complications has celebrated her second birthday this weekend, 12 months on.

Indigo Haight is one of the many success stories of the Children’s Air Ambulance, after it saved her life while she was on holiday with her family in Truro.

The little girl celebrated her second birthday on Saturday as a now healthy two-year-old, with her mum Leighanne saying: "She loves to dance, play with dolls and cars and is a big fan of the character Peppa Pig.

"She is very active and outgoing."

Leighanne remembers, however, that things were very different a year ago when an unexpected birthday present for Indigo was a dose of chickenpox, which she caught from her brother.

On holiday in Cornwall from Prestwich, complications meant that the then 13-month-old was first treated at the Royal Cornwall Hospital, Treliske before being transferred for specialist paediatric care at a hospital 340 miles away after suffering a series of strokes.

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“I believe that without the Children’s Air Ambulance and the team on board she would not have received the vital specialist treatment she needed so urgently as quickly as she did and may not have survived. The charity gave me her life,” said Leighanne.

Indigo was on holiday with her mum, dad, brother and a group of friends when she had to be admitted to the Royal Cornwall Hospital after she stopped using her left arm and leg and the left side of her face was drooping.

Emergency scans revealed that Indigo had two masses on either side of her brain and abnormalities in her heart. While these investigations were being carried out she was having regular seizures that were getting worse each time they happened.

Falmouth Packet:

Indigo Haight is now about to celebrate her second birthday

Eventually Indigo had to be sedated and transferred to the Intensive Care Department while decisions were made about how best to treat her.

Leighanne explained: “Staff at the Royal Cornwall Hospital decided this was a more serious condition than they were equipped to deal with and that Indigo would have to be transferred to another hospital.

"Consultants at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool were contacted and spoken to via video link about the best course of treatment.

"It was decided to transfer her there by helicopter which was a shock, but at the same time a great relief as I knew it was the quickest way for her to get the care she needed so urgently.”

The Children’s Air Ambulance took off from its base in Oxford and flew to Bristol to pick up a specialist retrieval team from Wales and West Acute Transport for Children Service to fly them to the Royal Cornwall Hospital.

On arrival, the team prepared Indigo for the flight to Alder Hey Children’s Hospital and accompanied her in the helicopter. Leighanne was also able to join them for the flight as the helicopter has a seat for a parent to travel with their child.

It took two hours and 18 minutes to fly from Truro to Liverpool compared with a road journey in a land ambulance of approximately five hours 39 minutes.

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“I couldn’t believe all the equipment that was on the helicopter to treat Indigo and monitor her condition while we were flying. It was amazing. Most people have no idea that such intensive care takes place up in the sky,” says Leighanne.

As soon as they arrived at Alder Hey, Indigo was taken to the High Dependency Unit where she was given medication and fluids and monitored.

After undergoing more scans and lumbar punctures, it was discovered that the strokes she had suffered had been caused by chickenpox.

“This viral infection (chickenpox) had caused Indigo’s immune system to attack her brain stems and create clots in her brain which broke free and caused the seizures,” said Leighanne.

She stayed with her daughter in hospital for the 21 days it took to get her well enough to be discharged. During that time Indigo was given intravenous antibiotics four times a day and had to have regular physiotherapy.

Now back to full health, Indigo is “into everything” and will be spoiled for her birthday.

Lockdown restrictions mean she cannot have the joint party with brother Lao, eight, that Leighanne would have liked.

“I am hoping the sun shines so the children can play on their new trampoline in the garden and we can have cake and party food with grandparents,” she said.