A BOY whose life was saved by an air ambulance is the face of a new campaign.

Buzz Shelley is the focus of an appeal by the Children’s Air Ambulance after a coughing fit left him struggling to breathe and he had to be transported to a hospital in London in a helicopter.

The eight-year-old from Hurst Green, near Heathfield, has a rare genetic disorder called Leopard Syndrome, which means he is vulnerable to chest infections and episodes of croup.

In March last year Buzz’s condition was so bad he was fighting for breath and he was flown from Conquest Hospital in St Leonards to London Children’s Hospital for urgent care.

A specialist children’s intensive care team at the Evelina London Children’s Hospital was flown in to pick up Buzz,and he had to be sedated and intubated before he was transferred on to the helicopter’s special stretcher.

Buzz and his mother Melissa needed to travel to the hospital four times before in a land ambulance, which takes two hours, but the transfer time was reduced to 27 minutes in the air ambulance.

Melissa said: “When we took off and flew over the A21 and M25 I could see the heavy traffic and I knew we would get to the hospital much quicker than by road.

“Once we got to Evelina I was able to breathe a huge sigh of relief, as I knew Buzz was going to be OK.

“He’s been treated at the hospital so many times, it was like coming home.

“Unfortunately our local hospital is not qualified or equipped to treat children like Buzz so getting to Evelina so quickly was crucial.”

Buzz was kept sedated in the paediatric intensive care unit at the Evelina hospital while he was treated with antibiotics and steroids to clear the infection and give his body time to recover. After three days he was well enough to be discharged.

Melissa said: “He has amazing bounce-back ability and soon returned to being the busy little boy he is normally.

“We are so grateful to the Children’s Air Ambulance for getting us to the specialist hospital so quickly and we hope that sharing our family’s experience will help raise awareness and funds for this lifesaving charity, which receives no Government funding and relies totally on donations to remain operational.”

The Children’s Air Ambulance (TCAA) is a national transfer service for seriously ill children and babies.

TCAA routinely takes senior doctors and consultants on board so they can provide advanced treatment on the scene. The charity receives no Government funding and each transfer service costs about £3,500.

Buzz’s story is the latest to feature in the charity’s Flying Little Hearts Appeal, which coincides with Valentine’s Day this week. To make a donation, go to childrensairambulance.org.uk.