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Last Updated: Tuesday, 21 November 2006, 16:02 GMT
RAF flight 'saved couple's baby'
Baby Rhianna with her parents Joanne and John Chellew
Rhianna is finally home with her parents and sister
A couple whose baby was flown hundreds of miles in an RAF Hercules for life-saving treatment in Scotland have thanked those who fought to save her.

Rhianna Chellew, from Swansea, developed pulmonary hypertension at birth and was flown to Glasgow where special equipment was available.

Doctors knew the baby would probably not survive the journey north by road so the RAF was called in.

Rhianna is now home. Her father John said: "The RAF plane saved her."

The postman added: "Rhianna could well have died if she had been taken by ambulance.

"We can't thank the RAF and the hospitals enough. She went through an awful lot in the first few days of her life but she's fine now."

His wife Joanne Chellew, 29, said: "It was horrendous. She was very, very poorly and we feared the worst."

Baby being loaded into an RAF Hercules aircraft
The RAF said it was an unusual mission for them

Rhianna had to be transferred from Singleton Hospital in Swansea to Glasgow's Royal Hospital for Sick Children after she developed the serious and rare condition at birth which meant she could not get enough oxygen unto her blood.

The Glasgow unit was the only NHS hospital which had a specialist incubator with equipment to bypass Rhianna's heart and lungs available.

The huge Hercules transporter - normally used to fly equipment and troops to Iraq and Afghanistan - was first flown from RAF Lyneham in Wiltshire to Scotland, to pick up the medical team.

The plane then flew to Cardiff to pick up baby Rhianna and she was taken to Scotland, accompanied by the doctors and nurses.

After two weeks in the Glasgow hospital, Rhianna was well enough taken off the incubator and she was returned to Swansea by ambulance.

Now she has been allowed home to be with her parents and sister Ellie, nine.

Rhianna Chellew
Rhianna was diagnosed with pulmonary hyper tension

Her mother admitted: "It was a nightmare. We had to deal with things hour by hour.

"But she is so well now, it's a miracle and it's hard to believe she was so seriously ill."

Mrs Chellew said after Rhianna was born there did not seem to be anything wrong with her and she was crying very loudly.

"She was a big baby at 10lb 5oz but after she was weighed we noticed she wasn't breathing and had started to go blue and limp."

It was then she was whisked into neonatal care and later diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension.

An RAF spokesman said it had been an unusual mission.

"It went without hitch and we are absolutely delighted that we were able to help save the little baby," he added.

Hercules carries baby to safety
24 Nov 05 |  Wiltshire
Airlift baby allowed home
28 Jan 04 |  Wales

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