Triple Transplant for an Infant

Getting ready to go

Getting ready to go

An 8 month old infant needs to go from SE Michigan to Pittsburgh for a liver/pancreas/intestine transplant. He had never eaten in his life and was on a life support pack. Flights are planned in advance with pertinent information provided by the mission coordinator to the client and the pilot.

On July 24, 2008 I was contacted at 5:50 a.m. by the Angel Flight transplant coordinator and informed that the patient was “activated”, i.e. there was a match and he had 6 hours to be in the hospital from the initial contact time made by the hospital transplant coordinator, about 5 a.m. I checked the weather and was able to accept the flight, with a planned ETA at Allegheny County Airport (AGC) of 10:00 a.m. That worked for the coordinators.

This flight required more coordination than typical because the infant was with a foster mom, but the biological mom had to go and that meant that the social worker would have to get her to the plane.  So, we had people coming from three homes in two locations, Flint and South Lyon, MI, meeting at my local airport.  Everyone was at the airport by 7:50 a.m.

As I loaded him into the plane he was wide-eyed and looking mostly straight ahead with big round eyes. His color was not good, but he was not in any apparent discomfort.  My wife had helped get the plane ready and helped get us loaded and the hangar open.  As we departed a few of the folks seemed to have a tear in their eye. Perhaps a tear of joy because he was finally going to be helped, but maybe a bit of sadness due to the uncertainty associated with a triple transplant.

We departed at 8:10 using a lifeguard (air ambulance) call sign.  My requested altitude and routing was approved by air traffic control (ATC) and we flew to, and then along the south shore of Lake Erie and then to Pittsburgh, above the clouds and with a nice tailwind, arriving at AGC at 9:42 a.m.  Cleveland Center asked if they could help and I asked them to phone the Angel Flight coordinator and let her know of our ETA, which they did. She was coordinating our arrival with the hospital transplant coordinator.  An ambulance arrived a few minutes after we landed and took the mom and infant to the hospital. The transplants went well and the infant was doing well when I checked in September, 2008.