I’d like to thank all of you 400 ropes members for your prayers, flight following and support over the past 3 years! Thanks also for you patience in receiving mission reports as sometimes it takes me a few days to have time to write them (I still work full-time in ER).
We have several “mottos” when we fly to do missions. “Showing Christ’s Love through Aviation” is one, and after flying all day, ground transport, patient care, and on the last mission-watching every heart beat on the monitor-“We work for food” is another!
We had left to fly out to Denver from Indy at 8:30am Friday and at 10pm in the back of the ambulance going to Tampa VA hospital with James M, Hal texted me and I asked our RT Chris, “do you want something delivered or to eat out for dinner?” Surprisingly our patient James perked up and said “I’d like to eat out.” It was not bad for a 63 year old guy who had died earlier in the day!
James’s family had been working with us to try and get James home from Denver for over 2 months. It seemed whenever we were about ready to fly-he’d become unstable. The last time was 3 weeks earlier when he was given CPR and put back on ventilator. His son Joe finally called and said that they had been told James would never be healthy enough to be released to fly-given his liver and renal failure and strange capacity to suddenly stop breathing. Poor James had been alone for months-his family only able to visit from Florida occasionally.
I mentioned to Joe that we indeed have flown many “hospice-type” patients in hopes they could make it-even though they are end of life situations. I told him that James would have to finally change his status to “do not resuscitate” to be able to qualify for us to fly him- it didn’t mean we wouldn’t treat him-only we wouldn’t do CPR and emergently land if James became unstable-we’d have to rely on God to keep him “healthy” for the flight. James was asked and eagerly said, “if that’s what gets me home I’ll sign it.”
Friday we landed for refuel in Kansas and Hal asked me to call to check on him a second time before we proceeded. His nurse said he was finishing dialysis and “was doing fine.” When we arrived at the hospital we were told “he had a short situation a half hour earlier in which he needed pressure to support his breathing” but was fine now. We assessed him and found him smiling and ready to go but very ill appearing. His vital signs were stable for flight and we loaded him into the ground ambulance.
As we loaded him onto the plane I gave Hal a look that said “this guy’s really sick”. After James was prayed over and secured in the plane, I called Dr Jim for advise. As we prepared for takeoff, James’s blood pressure dropped and he had a terrible cough. Chris and I worked hard to help stabilize him and as I was reading through his chart notes, I discovered that he actually had died earlier before our arrival-his heart and breathing had ceased and he had required chest compressions and ventilation (?!) but had come out of it after a few minutes-few small facts the releasing facility forgot to mention. God is good and James was stable with medications during our 5 1/2 hours of flying.
When we finally landed in Tampa, James was sleeping and I had to wake him up to tell him “welcome home!” His words were “I made it!” We were met by his family at the hospital and my heart always jumps when I see a family finally reunited. His daughter Jamie and son Joe were there with hugs and tears. They were given a copy of the Bible and stayed bedside while we prayed with James before we left.
I learned that after dialysis on Monday, James died despite CPR. The family called us and were so happy to have had a few good days with him-his last days on earth.
As I reflect back on our ministry the past 3 years, I realize that many of our patients now have died. It is then when I love our other motto:
“What does it matter if you transport someone and give them an extra year or two of life, if you don’t introduce them to the One who gives eternal life?”
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