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NZ Air Ambulance Flight Helps Save Boy Requiring Kidney Transplant


This week’s blog is based on a gripping story of a dying child, and the air ambulance his mother says saved his life, that first appeared in New Zealand’s Southland Times late last month.

The day of his transport, the boy’s kidneys were reportedly working at only 5 percent. Starship Air Ambulance sped to Invercargill, New Zealand, one of the southernmost cities on the planet, to pick him up and take him to the capital city of Auckland for further care.

Coincidentally, the air ambulance had already made a round trip between Invercargill and Auckland that same day. Nevertheless, the pilots and a small crew of air medical specialists made the long trip again to pick the dying boy up.

For our readers who don’t live in New Zealand – and I know there are a few of you out there – the coastal cities of Auckland and Invercargill sit on polar opposite sides of the country. But let’s put that in a little more perspective:

On the ground, the 1,025 mile journey from Auckland to Invercargill takes roughly 24 hours to complete one way, and includes a ferry ride between the North and South islands. The life-saving air ambulance was able to complete two round trips between the cities in a fraction of the time.

The boy’s mother has praised the level of care her son received on board the air ambulance as “absolutely amazing.”

Fast forward to 5 months later, and the young boy – named Ethan – is waiting in line for a kidney transplant. While he, like so many others, would have to wait for a new kidney, he could easily have died, or been “at death’s door” as the Southland Times put it, without the help of the skilled healthcare professionals who have looked after him – including the air ambulance crew that provided care for him on the flight to Auckland.

The boy’s father, Steve Graham, has selflessly elected to give one of his own kidneys to his young son. Graham, who has already undergone several spinal operations in the past, said that he did not dread the upcoming operation, and that doctors told him it would likely not be “as bad” in comparison to his spinal operations.

Doctors have said that Ethan will need another kidney in about 10-15 years, and that he will have to take anti-rejection medication for the rest of his life. But he’s alive – and healthy to boot. The family will also no longer have to deal with daily dialysis for their young son.

Wishing to give something back to the air ambulance that transported Ethan to Auckland on that fateful day, they’ve begun supporting the Starship Foundation’s cell phone recycling campaign, which helps to raise money for the air ambulance. The campaign raises money for New Zealand children who are ill or injured.

Do you have a life-affirming story of how an air medical crew helped to save a life? Please let us know about your experiences in the comments below or submit your story to us via the contact form.

Sources: The Southland Times Online (

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