Flying Doctor lives up to its vision

Graphic: Flying Doctor lives up to its vision

Flying Doctor lives up to its vision

Date published

27 Jan 2021

When Liz’s eye started bleeding, she was afraid she would lose her sight.

Liz durant

Liz Durant is a registered nurse and has lived in Broken Hill for 11 years. She has worked all over Australia and has spent time in Darwin and Western Australia. 

“It was when I was working a short contract in Kalgoorlie in 2003 and I saw the Flying Doctor plane on the landing strip on the Nullabor Plains, that I realised how important they were in reaching people in need in the remotest parts of the country,” Liz said. 

Liz enjoys singing, walking her dog, drawing, and photography. Despite being born and bred in Sydney, Liz now calls herself a country girl and says she could never go back to living in the city. 

“I love living in the bush because of the peace and quiet, the beautiful outdoors and the fact that there are fewer people,” Liz said. 

For Liz, the hardest part of living in rural areas was the distance to travel and the cost of fuel to get to specialist care, which became an issue for Liz when she developed serious allergies. 

“My immune system became overworked and I started having regular severe allergic reactions requiring adrenalin,” Liz said. 

Liz started seeing a doctor who specialised in the diagnosis and treatment of allergies to try and get some relief from her regular flare-ups. The doctor trialled Liz on expensive medication to help her allergies, but unfortunately one of the side effects was an increased risk of developing blood clots. 

“At the time I was working from home and found I was getting a bit of pain in my right eye, but I just put it down to being in front of the computer screen too long,” Liz recalled. 

“I woke the next morning to find that the whole white of my right eye was bright red, every blood vessel had burst, and I was in excruciating pain.” 

Liz got herself to Broken Hill hospital. Unfortunately, the fly-in-fly-out Ophthalmologist had left town the day before, and the doctor on duty was worried about Liz’s eye but couldn’t examine it properly. 

“I couldn’t see out of my eye and the pain was getting worse, so he called the Royal Adelaide Hospital and made plans for me to go there as soon as possible. A call was made to request that the Flying Doctor transport me,” Liz said. 

Liz remembers feeling embarrassed at the thought her case wasn’t serious enough for the Flying Doctor to be called, but she couldn’t drive in her condition and lived alone in Broken Hill with no way to get to Adelaide for treatment. 

“The flight nurse and the pilot were lovely. My flight nurse assured me I wasn’t an inconvenience and that it was important I got to Adelaide to have my eye seen to,” Liz said. 

Once Liz arrived in Adelaide the Ophthalmic Registrar on duty checked her eye and thankfully there were no blood clots. “The registrar said that the pain behind my eye was a form of severe migraine and the pain in my eye was from all the swollen blood vessels rubbing against my eyelid,” Liz said. 

“I’ve supported the RFDS financially when I’m able to because I want to give back. It is such an important service in the outback,” Liz said. 

“I never knew I’d ever need their help, but one day I did, even though I felt that I was being an inconvenience because I thought I only had a smaller medical issue. It’s not always possible to know how serious something like this could be until it is seen to. I am so appreciative to have had the Flying Doctor when I needed them.” 

“A huge thank you to all the wonderful people who support the Flying Doctor, thank you for your donations and generosity,” Liz said.