Our flight plan destination was to Washington, D.C. Our ground transport crew took us on to Bethesda Maryland, where we were to pick up Richard and his wife for transport back to Columbus, Indiana.
Imagine my surprise, pulling up to an entry gate, as I espied a guard dog and uniformed gentlemen at a checkpoint center. We had arrived at the National Institute of Health (NIH) Campus gate, with Tami informing me that we had to get out and be searched (along with a quick search of the ambulance). I got out of the ambulance and emptied all of my pockets, putting my medical paraphernalia into little bins, as done at airport security check points. As I stepped through the metal detector, my thoughts were along the lines of, “I’m not a criminal, I am an angel of mercy on a medical transport. Hmmm…, this is quite odd.” Tami (who had transported Richard to this facility a few weeks before) was quick to explain that this is required, due to the delicate nature of the NIH research studies and potential biochemical research compromise concerns. That explanation made perfect sense. In retrospect, I can say that it is still a bit unnerving, to say the least. We are living in interesting times.
Richard, a pleasant 51 year old gentleman, had been diagnosed with recurrent left pleural, biphasic mesothelioma. His original diagnosis date was July of 2010, with treatment that had been initially successful. His initial multimodality treatment consisted of a left extrapleural pneumonectomy with a pericardiectomy and partial diaphragm resection. Adjunct therapy included 4 cycles of cisplatin and radiation in July of 2010.
When Richard experienced a recurrence of the mesothelioma, he was invited to become a participant in a new investigational research drug study, at NIH in Maryland. Richard received one dose of the NCI Protocol 11-C-0160, during his stay there. This pilot study consists of repeated doses of pentostatin plus cyclophosphamide to increase immunogenicity in mesothelioma patients. Richard experienced atrial fibrillation (A-fib), with just one dose and didn’t appear to tolerate the drug very well. It was determined that he would not receive any further dosing, at this present time. It was unclear as to whether or not Richard had experienced A-fib, at any point prior to or following his cardiothoracic surgery. This investigational drug therapy is known for it’s extreme cardiotoxic effects.
We were greeted at the door of the facility by Richard (in a wheel chair), accompanied by his treatment RN and wife. After a quick report from his RN (on the outside portico/driveway area), we were on our way. Again, Tami explained that this was a variation from normal transport procedure (bed to stretcher transfer), but routine for this facility. Richard was a bit talkative during the ground transport to the plane, but rested quite comfortably during the air transport.
We were met at the Columbus airport by Richard’s family for his private vehicle transport to his home. We were delighted that our flight crew was able to transport Richard and his wife safely home to Columbus, Indiana, just in time for the Holidays!
I am grateful to my loving God to be allowed to have been a part of this transport experience. My life has been touched and changed by meeting this wonderful family.
JoLynne Anderson RN, BS
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