July 29, 2010
July 27, 2010. San Pedro Sula, Isla Utila, and Isla Roatan.
I want to preface this blog by saying that the name ‘Floating Doctors’ WAS, in part, inspired by the Flying Doctors, a group of surgeons who started with one small plane flying down into Mexico to provide free care. When I last checked, they were doing thousands of cleft palate repairs, reconstructive surgeries and other procedures throughout Baja and the Sonoran Desert. When I was trying to think of a name that encapsulated my dream of doing something similar on the water, Floating Doctors seemed like a nice twist on a similar concept of delivering health care to remote locations. Why was I thinking of this particular piece of Floating Doctors history today? Well…
On Thursday we got the call from Aeromed; there had been a shooting on Roatan. A guy took three shots, one to the face, which blew off the end of his nose, one through the right arm and one chest shot on the right side–an entry wound but no exit. I don’t know why, and I don’t want to know. All I know is that 10 minutes later Sirin and I were at the airport with our gear and took the patient from the ambulance, loaded him and two family members onto the chopper, and took off for the hour-long flight to San Pedro Sula on mainland Honduras. It had been 16 hours since the shooting. The patient was getting very weak, lapsing in and out of consciousness and sliding down into deep shock.
As we climbed to 8,000 feet and the ambient oxygen levels fell, he got weaker and weaker. His blood pressure started to fall like a stone. In the shaking, vibrating helicopter I managed to get an 18-gauge IV line into him, and we pumped fluids in. He had a catheter in and his urine was dark yellow,and he wasn’t making much, so I was worried he was going into acute renal failure. His pressure came up with the fluids we put in, his kidneys kicked in, and he started making urine again. We kept the oxygen flowing, monitored his pressure and pupillary reflex, put blankets on him and raised his legs. We tried to will the helicopter to supersonic speed.
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