Real life

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Real life

Postby Dave Reed » Thu Mar 29, 2018 8:02 pm

Heading out to get a donor. This is a person who is clinically brain dead and the family has agreed to the organ donation process. Many things get used including heart, lungs, kidneys, liver, skin, eyes, you name it. You won't see a picture of a donor here though. Patient privacy still applies. This donor turned out to be a large, heavy man. Took some doing getting the stretcher into the airplane, and off again later! Usually these trips last around 6-7 hours, from show time to return. When we get to where we are getting the donor, my copilot and I usually go get something to eat. This day we went to Bass Pro Shop and got fish and chips at their restaurant.

My cute as ever copilot, Rachel. Such a darn good pilot!
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One of the team members, Dominique. The other team member is Nicole. Yep, I'm the only guy on this flight.
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This is the newest member of our fleet, just arrived today. Brand new, straight from the factory, only 8 hrs total time! Its a KingAir 350i with the new touch-screen avionics in it. This is a company-owned airplane, very similar to our medical KingAir 350i.
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Flew from St Louis to Springfield MO, a quick 50 min flight. Lots of rain and clouds enroute, but most of the time we were between layers. Went up to FL200 initially, then right back down to 14,000 looking for a smoother ride. At Springfield it was all rain and clouds so we flew the GPS approach to runway 20.

Six hours later, at about 9 pm, we took off in the fog for St Louis. Smooth ride back at FL190, flew straight in to the ILS 8R at KSUS. Pretty foggy, got the runway in sight about 3/4 mi out.

Here we are about to go in the hangar after the flight. I like this airplane, it's like a Toyota. Runs and runs, never breaks, never a problem. Unlike the Toyota though, she'll cruise at 345 mph!
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Dave Reed
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Re: Real life

Postby PAA0691 » Sat Mar 31, 2018 9:00 am

Love the KingAir. Used to "flight" it in FSX. As you said... is like a Toyota... Camry :)

Sorry, but I have to ask with ALL the respect this issue needs: you transported the donor or the organs? because I read " This donor turned out to be a large, heavy man. Took some doing getting the stretcher into the airplane" and if you transported de body, you need to put it on "ice" or something? (well... no you, the medics I mean).

Thanks for the photos & the story. We flight with you every time you write about your real life flights.
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Re: Real life

Postby Dave Reed » Sun Apr 01, 2018 1:47 pm

Good questions. We have two types of trips we do: organ retrieval and donor retrieval. Organ flights require a couple of nurses/techs, a surgeon and usually a surgeon in training. We go to the city, they disappear for a few hours, and come back with the organ. Normally several teams arrive at the same time. One gets the heart (first priority), then lungs (second priority), then liver and kidneys. Hearts are only good for 2-3 hours out of the body. Lungs are about the same. Kidneys and liver can last for 24 hrs. Once the organ is onboard we fly back using the Medivac call sign, which gives us priority with ATC. In the remarks section of the flight plan, if you say MEDIVAC-HEART, they’ll make FedEx go around if need be! I know, I’ve seen it.
With a donor, you only need two techs. The “patient” is brain dead, so a death certificate has been issued. The family agrees to the organ donation process (this can sometimes take a long time). The techs get the patient stable for transport. They have a heartbeat, the machine pumps air into their lungs, so when you see one they look perfectly fine. Well, sometimes not so fine. Usually they smell like you or me, but sometimes they have that dead person smell. Once you’ve smelled that you’ll never, ever forget it. Once stable, they load everything into an ambulance and it’s off to the airport, code 3 lights and sirens!
Planeside we get the patient loaded, then we get the engines turning, clearance, taxi to the runway. Once the techs give us the thumbs up we take off and fly home. An ambulance meets us there, and takes the patient to the MTS office. They have a complete operating room there. Several teams are waiting, ready to get the heart, lungs etc. they then head to their hospital where the recepient is already in their OR waiting. St Louis is the second busiest transplant city in the country. Half the people that get transplants in the US get it in St Louis. We have three hospitals that do transplants here.
So on any given organ transplant trip, whether it’s an organ or a donor, we are usually on duty for 6-7 hrs. Last week I had two trips and was awake for 22 hrs. That was a long night!
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Re: Real life

Postby PAA0691 » Mon Apr 02, 2018 8:58 am

WOW! thanks a lot for the long and throughful explanation Dave! I learned a lot from it. My "small" kid (13 years old) wants to be a surgeon someday (or that's what he wants now, so I will show him this post.
You had to be proud of your work! as the donors families must too for their generosity.

Thanks again!
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Re: Real life

Postby Dave Reed » Tue Apr 03, 2018 1:35 pm

The donor families have a network they can join. Most eventually hook up with the recipient, but that's up to them. The whole process doesn't cost the donor family anything. When they are done with the patient, the remains are sent back to where they came from, no charge. This is usually done either with a casket in a van, or cremated remains going some other way.
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Re: Real life

Postby hermankreimes » Sun Apr 22, 2018 9:48 am

Very interesting Dave. Thanks for the detailed explanations. Keep up the good work. Great pics.

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