Family backing for Yorkshire helipad campaign after baby Ellena stopped breathing on Centre Parcs holiday

Watching the light fade from his tiny daughter's eyes, Matt Kik felt a rising terror that no parent could ever forget.

Ellena, then aged just four months, had been born with a rare condition and, choking on her first family holiday at Centre Parcs, turned blue as she stopped breathing.

Ellena Kik, now aged four, collapsed on a family holiday as a tiny baby. Her life was saved by her father's quick actions, and after she was airlifted to Sheffield Children's Hospital for treatment, her family are backing a charity campaign for a new helipad. Image Matt Kik.

Ellena Kik, now aged four, collapsed on a family holiday as a tiny baby. Her life was saved by her father's quick actions, and after she was airlifted to Sheffield Children's Hospital for treatment, her family are backing a charity campaign for a new helipad. Image Matt Kik.

Her life was saved that day by a rescue breath from her father, paramedics arriving within moments to airlift her to the Sheffield Children's Hospital.

But precious moments were lost when the helicopter was left hovering, unable to land because of people picnicking in the park below.

Today the Kik family, speaking out as they back the hospital charity's campaign for a dedicated helipad, say they were lucky that Ellena was in the safest of hands.

But those few minutes' delay they warn, for another family in direr need, could have come at such a cost.

Matt Kik, at the family's home in Dore, Sheffield. The family are backing an appeal for a new helipad at Sheffield Children's Hospital after daughter Ellena was treated here.

Matt Kik, at the family's home in Dore, Sheffield. The family are backing an appeal for a new helipad at Sheffield Children's Hospital after daughter Ellena was treated here.

"We were lucky it happened in June," adds Matt. "In winter, there are not many pilots who will land if the park's not lit, or if it's snowy or icy.

"Those few minutes, however short a time you can save by having a helipad on the roof, just makes it so much safer."

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Rare condition

The Children's Hospital Charity launched its Build a Better Future appeal last year, for a new emergency department and on-site helipad at Sheffield Children's Hospital, as the air ambulance currently has to land in a park opposite.

Ellena Kik, now aged four, will be starting school in coming weeks. Her life was saved by her father's quick actions, and she was airlifted to Sheffield Children's Hospital as a tiny baby. Image Matt Kik.

Ellena Kik, now aged four, will be starting school in coming weeks. Her life was saved by her father's quick actions, and she was airlifted to Sheffield Children's Hospital as a tiny baby. Image Matt Kik.

Ellena, now aged four and a half, will be starting her first day at school in coming weeks. She was born with a rare condition of her food pipe and airway that affects just one in 5,000 children.

Within her two days, she had undergone an operation to repair her esophagus, and her family were offered intensive resuscitation training.

This training came into use within her first few weeks, when she stopped breathing at home. Matt, laying her gently flat, had simply tilted back her head to open up her airways.

The second time was on the family holiday to Centre Parcs in 2015 as she started to choke while her mother Genna fed her on the sofa.

The Kik family, pictured on holiday this month, have backed the Childrens Hospital Charity appeal to raise funds for a new helipad at Sheffield Children's Hospital after Ellena, pictured with big sister Evie, fell ill as a tiny baby. Image Matt Kik.

The Kik family, pictured on holiday this month, have backed the Childrens Hospital Charity appeal to raise funds for a new helipad at Sheffield Children's Hospital after Ellena, pictured with big sister Evie, fell ill as a tiny baby. Image Matt Kik.

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"We tried patting her on the back, and we realised something had gone wrong," said Matt. The family straightened her airways as they had been trained, and tried the baby Heimlich.

"I was really starting to panic," said Matt. "You hear that when someone chokes, they turn blue. You think they can't really - but they do.

"It was horrible. The look in her eyes, the life just disappeared.

"I remember thinking I've lost her, I'm looking at my child die. I felt helpless, it's the most scared I've ever been in my entire life."

In desperation, Matt tried rescue breaths, putting his mouth over hers and pushing air into her lungs.

"Straight away she coughed and started breathing,"he says. "I consider it a miracle, that I managed to get her back."

Campaign

Ellena had to be airlifted to hospital, her mother accompanying her in the helicoper. Matt, driving in rush hour, made the 30 mile journey by car, and arrived just 10 minutes later.

Because there is no helipad, the air ambulance had to land in Western Park opposite the hospital, but on a sunny Friday evening in June it was full of people relaxing after work.

"They had to hover over the park, and wait for people to get the idea and move out of the way," said Matt.

"There were nurses waiting with a stretcher, but Ellena was four months old, she was still attached to all these wires, so Genna just carried her - they had to run out of the park, and across a pedestrian crossing, to A&E.

"We were very lucky, in that before she left Centre Parcs she was safe. But that isn't always the case, and other children might not be able to waste that time.

"Landing, bumping across the grass and the road, and people watching and staring. It's going to shave what could be essential time for very needy children."