Harri's here thanks to Starship Air Ambulance and medics at Auckland children's hospital

A Christchurch boy who was given a 50 per cent chance of survival with a critical heart condition at birth is now a lively five-year-old thanks to the Starship Air Ambulance and medics at the Auckland children's hospital.

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Five years ago Harri was rushed from Christchurch to Auckland on the service. Source: Seven Sharp

Seven Sharp reported the Starship Air Ambulance is a lifeline for sick children all over the country - a vehicle that for many provides their only shot at survival.

Last year the Starship Air Ambulance flew 183 missions.

Harri Brown's friends in the Year One class at Oakland's Primary School and his parents told his story, explaining that when he was born the doctors and nurses had to help him a lot.

Scans had been normal but, "he was delivered and he didn't make any noise," said Rod Brown, Harri's Dad.

"The look of worry on our back-up midwife's face said it all. And I asked, 'what's going on?' And she said, 'don't go over to where he is, he's having an issue breathing'."

Emotional, Harri's Mum, Mel Brown recalled, "I didn't even get to look at him, let alone hold him or touch him."

They were told their son had a critical heart condition.

Harri needed special help. But it was in Auckland and he was in Christchurch.

Harri was only a few hours old, and he was already on his first plane ride, to Auckland.

When he landed he still had a long way to go, and needed surgery.

"I asked them what his chances were and she said 50 per cent. And it was that point that it really sunk in," Ms Brown said.

The Starship Air Ambulance had flown her to Auckland the next morning.

Following treatment, and at six months of age, "his heart had gone from functioning exceptionally poorly to functioning like a normal heart," Mr Brown said.

Now five, Harry said, "I like running and I'm pretty good at it."

The Browns said they can't thank the doctors, nurses and pilots enough.

The Starship Air Ambulance needs about $1.5 million every year to save the lives of children like Harri.

So the service has an appeal going at present. People can donate or buy a $3 collectable toy plane at New World supermarket checkouts.