Trent’s Special Christmas Thanks to Life-Saving Children’s Hospital
20th December 2022
A FAMILY-OF-SEVEN are looking forward to a special Christmas together this year, after a harrowing ordeal in 2021 which saw quick-thinking dad James giving CPR to his baby boy.
Trent O’Neil Jones was the much-anticipated boy James and wife Bex had been looking forward to. Already parents to four girls, the couple were excited to welcome Trent into the world five weeks early in October 2021.
But when he was still very little, Trent needed life-saving treatment at Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital after collapsing at home. The need for urgent medical care meant Christmas 2021 saw the family ‘on edge’, wondering if Trent would become poorly again.
Now the Jones’, who are raising money for Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital Charity, are looking forward to their first proper Christmas where they can relax and enjoy the celebrations together with Trent.
“I’ll never forget the day it happened – I walked in and just saw him and it’s like I knew he wasn’t there anymore,” said James, who works as an electrician. “You can just tell when someone is in that much trouble – it’s like he’d left his body.
“Bex was screaming for us to drive to hospital, but I knew that would take too long and we had to do something right there and then. I wanted to keep calm but my head was all over the place.
“I started doing CPR on him while Bex phoned 999. I’ve been trained to do CPR on adults for my work but on the 999 phone call they explained I had to do it on him covering his whole nose and mouth with my mouth.
“When the ambulance arrived to take over it was such a relief, but that wasn’t the end of it by any means.”
Bex, aged 34, also recalled the terrifying moment, saying: “I remember going to the toilet and realising he hadn’t woken for his 4am feed. I went in to check on him and he was just lifeless. I shouted for James straight away.
“While he was doing the CPR our daughter Esmai walked in and saw what was happening. She was just five at the time and it was just an awful thing to see.
“By the time the ambulance arrived I thought we’d lost him. I was so upset, I don’t think I took a breath the entire time. I remember the paramedic taking me to one side and saying ‘he’s awake, he’s here’ but it took a while for it to sink in. I wouldn’t wish that experience on anyone.”
Trent was taken to his local hospital near the family’s home in Whittle-le-Woods in Chorley, where it was initially thought he had suffered from a bad spell of bronchitis. He spent about five days on an incubator before he was allowed home, on the promise he’d come back for more check-ups a few days later.
When he returned to the hospital he was diagnosed with laryngomalacia – commonly known as ‘floppy larynx’. The condition happens when the cartilage in the upper larynx is unstable, allowing it to flop into the airway and block it. Telltale signs are noisy breathing and difficulty feeding – which could be why Trent was initial diagnosed with bronchitis.
After the diagnosis, Trent was sent to Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital, where he was on a ward with several other critically ill babies.
“He went to one ward, but they weren’t happy with his condition, so he was sent to the High Dependency Unit and placed on life support,” said James. “Walking down those corridors with all those seriously ill babies…it was really scary.
“While we were there sadly some babies passed away. It was just absolutely awful for the families, but I don’t know how the staff cope either. They really are incredible for doing that job.”
In total Trent was in Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital for two weeks. During this time he had his operation to fix his laryngomalacia and spent time on the Intensive Care Unit, the High Dependency Unit and recovered from his surgery on the Neurosurgery, Neurology, Orthopaedics, Spinal Surgery & ENT (Ear Nose and Throat) Ward. Although he was home in time for Christmas Day, the festive period was a stressful time for the family. While caring for Trent in hospital, they were also juggling looking after their other children: Mya, now 14, Remmi, now 11, Esmai, now six, and three-year-old Connie.
James said: “It was a chaotic for Bex and I and I honestly don’t know how we did it. One of us would be in hospital and one of us would be at home trying to do normal Christmas things like school concerts and shopping.
“When he was home we couldn’t sleep. I was constantly watching him all the time, I was always just having that fear of it happening again.
“It wasn’t our first time either. When Connie was three, she had pyloric stenosis [an uncommon condition that blocks food from entering the small intestine]. She was just 48 hours away from dehydrating when we found out.
“Even now it’s all over it’s still with us. Esmai, who saw me doing the CPR, was only five at the time and she still asks us about it. ‘Do you remember when Trent was on the floor?’ It was carnage. She was stood behind me watching which I didn’t know at the time.
“With all the chaos and stress of last year, we’re just looking forward to a normal Christmas this year. We’re so excited. It’ll be our first Christmas with Trent that feels normal. It’ll just be the seven of us together at home. I can’t wait.”
Bex said: “He’s now a cheeky one-year-old who runs about loving life. It’s so surreal to see how he is now and think about how we almost lost him. I just feel incredibly grateful to the whole children’s hospital. But I especially want to mention Sarah from the ENT team, Beth and Liv from Ward 78 and the amazing nurses on the Intensive Care Unit. I just can’t thank them enough.”
To support the hospital that saved Trent’s life, the family have been doing some fundraising for Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital Charity. James has started a walking challenge and hopes to complete his mission next year. He has completed two of the Three Peaks but on his attempt to complete the third he had to abort the walk due to bad weather.
So far they have raised more than £500 for Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital Charity with their fundraising page.
Georgia Sleigh, a Relationship Officer for Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital Charity, said: “It’s so nice to hear how well Trent is doing after everything he went through. The Jones family really do deserve a memorable and happy Christmas.
“But there will be other families who have loved ones in hospitals this year. And so with that in mind we know people often think of making a donation to a charity at Christmas time.
“We have lots of ways supporters can make a contribution which will help our hospitals now, and throughout the year. Please do visit our Christmas website at www.mftcharitychristmas.org.uk to find out how you can help.”