Together we can do so much more

Together we can do so much more

In a place where there are no roads, a 2-hour flight saved the life of a heart attack victim in Papua New Guinea.

Story by Todd Aebischer and Mandy Glass. Photos by Mandy Glass

It was late in the afternoon when Dr. Erin Meier from Kudjip Nazarene Hospital called my phone, 'Todd, what are our options for a medical evacuation to Port Moresby? We have a very critical patient!'

The waiting game

Dr. Erin would go on to describe a young man around 25 years of age who had suffered a significant heart attack while playing rugby.

As Dr. Erin described the case, my mind was weighing the facts. It was already late in the afternoon. The rugged rainforest jungle over which we fly doesn't allow for safe operations at night, and given the 45-minute drive from Kudjip station to our airstrip, a late afternoon departure for the two hour flight to the capital city was already out of the question.

Rugged PNG landscape

Dr. Matt Woodley, an Emergency Doctor at Kudjip, and his team had already resuscitated the patient four times.

Would he be able to survive the high-altitude, non-pressurised flight that is required to clear the high mountains of the highlands on the way to the coast?

Dr Matt Woodley, praying with the patient

 We agreed that at this point, the best plan was to see if the patient could remain stabilised through the night at Kudjip and then plan for an early departure on Thursday morning.

Team effort - on the ground and in the air

Shortly after 6am on Thursday morning, Dr. Erin called. The young man had stabilised through the night and, although still critical, they felt he could survive the flight. They would be on their way shortly.

Quick calls to our Flight Operations Manager, Captain Brad Venter and Church and Community Partnership Manager, Godfrey Sim, put the plan in action. P2-SDP was readied and the base team awaited the arrival of the patient from Kudjip.

Todd Aebischer readies the plane by securing the stretcher

At 8:50am, the ambulance from Kudjip arrived at the MAF Mount Hagen base with the patient, family members and Doctor Woodley, along with Anesthesia Specialist David Wan.

Staff bring the patient to the aircraftThe team quickly went to work to prepare the patient for the flight.

Simultaneously, our team at MAF headquarters continued to do their part – praying for the patient, family, doctors, and pilot team as they prepared to launch.

At 09:49, MAF pilots Brad Venter and Andy Symmonds lifted off with their valuable cargo in P2-SDP sent off with much prayer from both the Kudjip Nazarene and MAF teams.

Touching down 2 hours later in the capital city of Port Moresby, the patient was transferred to the waiting ambulance and rushed to Pacific International Hospital.

Seeing isolated people physically and spiritually transformed in Christ’s Name. This is why we do what we do in one of the most remote countries in the world.

Todd Aebischer

Dr Matt Woodley (blue t-shirt) and Matthias Glass with the patient

Full recovery expected

On Friday morning our Mount Hagen team met for morning devotions as we do every morning. When the time came to list our praises and prayer requests, Nancy from our operations team said that she had received news from the family.

Our patient had successfully undergone surgery, was in the Intensive Care Unit, and it was expected that he would make a good recovery.

'Seeing isolated people physically and spiritually transformed in Christ’s Name.' This is why we do what we do in one of the most remote countries in the world. Accomplishing this vision requires a team: doctors, nurses, pilots, ground operations, flight operations, finance, IT, engineers, and many more!