Making Room for One More

Posted: on May 31, 2013

In a medical emergency, a last-minute addition to a flight’s passenger list is made. Brad Venter from MAF in Papua New Guinea reports…

The day began as an ordinary one; I was piloting a routine charter flight to bring people to an airstrip called Simbari and then return with another group to the larger town of Goroka. Preparing the flight manifest for the planned passengers in Simbari, the agent came to me and said that they really needed to get a lady into town who was giving birth to a baby in the breach position. Normally in these ‘medevac’ situations, a guardian comes along who can look after the patient during the flight and also at the hospital afterwards. However, I only had room on board for the lady. I was informed that, fortunately, her husband was waiting in Goroka, so could meet her there. With the other passengers also willing to help in case anything happened mid-flight, I decided that it would be fine to take her. She also wanted to bring along her young son but it just wasn’t possible. It must have been really hard for her and her son to be separated, with him wondering if he would ever see his mother alive again.

Simbari_Venter_Baby2_300We departed for Goroka, a thirty minute flight. As usual I radioed for the ambulance, but also as usual it never arrived. John, our base manager, drove her to the hospital in the MAF bus.

A week later, I was scheduled to fly back to Simbari. I was quite surprised to see that among the group of passengers were the lady, her husband and their new baby! I hadn’t expected her to return so quickly, but the doctor had managed to turn the baby and she had given birth naturally. Initially I hadn’t recognised her because he looked so different; no longer in pain and smiling! I spoke to them for a while and then we departed for Simbari. On arrival, the reunion between the mother and her son was quite touching. It’s great when you see a direct positive result from a flight that you have done and makes the ordinary, well, extraordinary!

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