Mary Ellen K is a 77 years old and originally from the Midwest. She relocated to North Carolina after her husband died of cancer. She unfortunately was diagnosed with cancer also in February of this year. Initially the primary sight was not determined but the doctors knew it had spread to her liver. It was then discovered to have come from the duct that drains bile. Despite chemotherapy, the liver began to shut down and in order to relieve some of her pain from her liver, the doctors went in surgically last week to place a drain to the outside of her abdomen. It was not successful and the doctors determined there was nothing else they could do.
Her daughter is from Cleveland and has seen multiple family and friends be helped by the wonderful Cleveland Clinic. The family decided to get her there to see if anything more could be done to relieve some of her terrible abdominal pain.
We were called to help transfer her there.
Do to a recorded large fluid build up in her lungs seen two weeks prior, I requested a chest X-ray before flight to get a better idea of how she would tolerate the pressure changes of altitude. Her doctor denied the request stating “she is comfort measures only”, in other (my)words-we probably won’t get paid for it. I was upset. But discussing it with my medical team, she was breathing well on oxygen on the ground and I felt she would probably do OK if we flew at low altitude.
This sometimes is required for our sickest patients but not always ideal due to mountains/weather/fuel burn/etc. So Hal wasn’t excited when I called to tell him what she needed. Her daughter gave me a grateful look and then God blessed our medic with an awesome IV start (after multiple attempts the day before their staff had given up and Mary Ellen couldn’t drink or eat.) We were then able to give her some much needed IV pain medication and fluids. She was in so much pain when we moved her to our cot, her daughter left the room with her hands over her face.
Mary Ellen did very well after we got the medications and fluids in her and kept the cabin altitude at minimum. The daughter wrote in Nellie’s Journal (that sits in the aircraft) how very thankful she was for the great care we took with her mom.
Thanks for great flying again by Mark and Hal and the compassion of medic Scott. Thanks for flight following of Mike and all of you.
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