• April 18, 2023
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Returned home from Tanzania to Canada

Case Study

AMREF Flying Doctors describe the treatment and repatriation of an elderly Canadian couple who had gone on safari in Tanzania

When traveling abroad, we hardly ever think about what can go wrong, and are often taken aback when bad things happen. We often think about adventures, great food and breathtaking sunsets, but not so often about intravenous drips, surgeries in a foreign country, and not knowing how to get back home.

This was also the case when a Canadian traveller and his wife fulfilled their lifetime dream of going on a safari in Tanzania – not expecting for a minute that their trip would abruptly end due to a medical emergency. The 73-year-old patient had suffered a tonic-clonic seizure during a game drive. Unfortunately, the patient also suffered a fracture-dislocation of the bilateral proximal humerus as he was being held down by bystanders trying to help. Upon being evacuated to the nearest suitable hospital, AMREF Flying Doctors’ (AFD) Emergency Control Centre received the notification through the local tour company, and immediately sprang into action.

Well-versed in dealing with all kinds of emergencies in Africa’s challenging conditions, AFD’s operations centre agents promptly contacted the hospital to obtain the latest medical notes. and confirm the patient’s insurance and coverage. Upon speaking with the treating doctor, AFD’s medical evaluation team was informed that a transfer to a larger hospital in Moshi for surgical intervention and further treatment was planned. AFD was also informed that the patient was most likely going through alcohol withdrawal, and had several co-morbidities which required ongoing treatment in addition to his current emergency.

A transfer to Nairobi

Shortly after the first contact, AFD was able to confirm that the patient held valid insurance and coverage and started making arrangements for the patient to be transported in a more adequate facility. It was determined that a transport to Nairobi, Kenya, was the best option for better medical access, as well as for organising the patient’s repatriation home. Quotes for the evacuation to Nairobi via Air Ambulance were obtained and the flight done by the AFD Team was confirmed for the following day at first light, as Arusha Airstrip is a daylight operation only.

Whilst AMREF Flying Doctor’s aircraft was on the way to Arusha, the hospital bill was settled, and the patient was prepared for transport. Upon arrival, AFD’s team picked up the patient from the hospital as per AFD’s policy of bed-to-bed-service, to assure seamless treatment and monitoring throughout the transfer.

As Nairobi had not been a planned destination for the patient or his wife, AMREF Flying Doctor’s team assisted with several services, such as placing a payment guarantee at the hospital, obtaining a phone SIM card for the patient’s wife, and arranging a hotel for her near to her husband’s hospital.

The patient remained in hospital for 24 days, during which he underwent various tests and investigations, had a surgical intervention for the fractures, and underwent physiotherapy. AFD’s medical team continued to monitor his progress, and when the patient was eventually declared fit to fly on a commercial airline with medical escort, AFD was tasked to arrange the same.

A successful repatriation

Being well versed in arranging commercial escorts worldwide, AFD’s team started the process by obtaining medical clearance from the commercial carrier that would take the patient, his wife and AFD’smedical escort back to Canada. AFD also purchased the tickets, arranged for ground ambulance and wheelchair assistance throughout the trip, and coordinated his arrival back home.

An in-person pre-flight assessment was performed by AFD’s medical escort prior to the flight to assure that the patient was sufficiently stable and well informed about all steps of the trip.

The repatriation went very well, the patient remained stable and was comfortable at all times. Upon arrival in Ottawa, the AMREF Flying Doctor’s team escorted the patient and his wife to his residence and returned to Nairobi the day after.

Another successful case and mission done by AMREF Flying Doctors – who are equipped for all kind of assistance and aero-medical needs in Africa. Due to AFD’s deep understanding of the circumstances and longstanding experience in providing medical services and assistance in Africa, AFD’s team could support the client on every step of the way. From the first medical information, followed by the initial aeromedical transport to the nearest centre of excellence, covering the costs in all hospitals, to the commercial medical escort that brought the patient home AMREF Flying Doctors was always there for the patient, while helping the insurer to fulfil the obligations towards his client in the best way possible.

FIRST PUBLISHED IN – Assistance & Repatriation Review | April 2023

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