In August 2016, MAF PNG Finance Manager Geoff Boer flew from Mount Hagen to Rumginae to do a base audit. Later, MAF Pilot Steven Eatwell and his wife Camilla made him dinner. After the meal, Geoff walked to the MAF guest house, a short distance down the road.
A little after midnight, the phone rang. Camilla, who had got up to feed her baby boy, says it was Geoff, who explained in a calm, businesslike voice, ‘Hello Camilla. I think I’m having a heart attack. Please call Steven and tell him to come to the car.’
Camilla later found out that Geoff had waited 20 minutes before trying to phone her. He didn’t want to inconvenience anybody!
Even though it felt as if an elephant was sitting on his chest, Geoff waited until the thought finally came to him, ‘If God has gone to all the trouble of getting me here, the least I can do is to make a phone call.’
Later, Dr Sharon Brandon, a missionary doctor, monitored Geoff, and ran an electrocardiogram (ECG) on his heart.
‘Geoff got aspirin, oxygen, morphine, GTN spray, a Clexane injection to thin his blood, and some medicines for strengthening the heart,’ says Dr Sharon. ‘Both the ECG and the blood test confirmed a heart attack.’
Steven, meanwhile, contacted MAF staff at our Mount Hagen base. Jennifer, Geoff’s wife, explains that ‘MAF PNG averages 500 medical evacuations a year. This time it was our turn, as MAF Programmer Sharlene Coker and Pilot Mike Dupuis worked to get me on an early morning flight from Mount Hagen to meet Geoff at Rumginae.’
‘Without Dr Sharon’s action, he would have died’
Praise God that MAF Pilot Markus Bischoff was eventually able to fly Jennifer, Geoff and Dr Sharon to meet a King Air Ambulance at Kiunga, where Geoff was flown direct to Cairns, Australia – arriving in a stable condition 18 hours after the heart attack.
‘The angiogram Geoff had in Cairns showed three blockages close to his aorta,’ recalls Jennifer. ‘Without Dr Sharon’s quick and skilful action, he would have died.’
The location of the blockages required open-heart surgery, so Geoff was flown by another air ambulance to Townsville Hospital for a double bypass.Having had a pacemaker fitted, Geoff is recovering well.
‘Imagine,’ reflects Camilla, ‘what would have happened had Geoff not been in Rumginae, where he had the expertise of a doctor from New Zealand who goes into the hospital there faithfully each day. It really was an amazing thing.’
In the providence of God, Geoff was in Rumginae when the heart attack occurred. Had it happened in Mount Hagen, he would probably have died because Mount Hagen General Hospital was closed due to industrial action.
Give thanks for Geoff’s recovery and for Dr Sharon’s delight at the encouraging card she received from Geoff, expressing his gratitude.
‘I’m quickly recovering from my double bypass operation,’ he wrote, pointing out that, if ‘you hadn’t rescued me in the middle of the night’ — four months before 25 December — ‘I wouldn’t have seen Christmas.’
Give God all the glory for our ability to airlift ill and injured patients — including MAF personnel — and fly them quickly and safely to the appropriate hospital.
Pray for MAF staff worldwide who often work in physically challenging, stressful or dangerous locations — asking God to keep them safe as they minister to people’s needs and help spread the Gospel.