Flight in time stops deadly disease

​Perhaps there is nothing so terrifying as the completely unexpected ... Something that Kyle Kuhn, a young Mount Gambier man who was suddenly plunged into his own medical crisis, knows only too well.

Feeling flat and sore, the 22-year-old cabinet-maker thought he might just be coming down with a cold, until he began to vomit and red spots appeared all over his stomach.

"My mum was the first to realise that I may be suffering something a lot more serious," Kyle says.

Kyle went to Mount Gambier Hospital where doctors urgently examined him and quickly diagnosed the often-deadly meningococcal disease.

Meningococcal disease is a serious illness that usually causes meningitis (inflammation of the lining of the brain and spinal cord) and blood poisoning. People with meningococcal disease can become extremely unwell very quickly. Five to ten per cent of patients with meningococcal disease do not survive, even despite rapid treatment.

Graphic: in hospital

"The doctors said I needed to be taken up to Adelaide immediately, for critical treatment by specialist doctors in Adelaide," Kyle recalls.

The RFDS was alerted, and Kyle was soon in the air and on his way to Adelaide in the care of an RFDS aeromedical crew.

Driving to Adelaide from Mount Gambier takes five hours, yet the RFDS aircraft covers this ground in just 60 minutes, a crucial time saving when a life hangs in the balance.Kyle's emergency treatment continued when he arrived at the Royal Adelaide Hospital.

"The situation was very tense," Kyle says. "It's scary when you know not everyone survives."

But Kyle responded well to his treatment and, mercifully, his condition improved.

After just five days in hospital, he was given the all-clear and allowed to go home.

"If I hadn't been able to take that RFDS emergency flight to Adelaide, I wouldn't be alive today," Kyle says.

"I never thought this would happen to me, but you never know when a crisis might strike – it can happen to anyone anytime."I'm just so grateful for the help of the Royal Flying Doctor Service."

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