Sarah Ward

From a stomach ache to emergency appendix surgery

Date published

06 Dec 2022

Rio Tinto employee, Sarah Ward, was in Brisbane for work when she started to experience stomach pains. She continued to work through it, not realising the severity. The following week she still was not feeling well, and by that following weekend, she could not walk.

On Sunday 1 October 2020, Sarah’s ongoing abdominal pain was so great that a neighbouring friend convinced her to go to Weipa Hospital; it was the right decision; by this stage, her appendix had ruptured, and she had an infection in her bowel from the damage.

The RFDS was called by Retrieval Services Queensland (RSQ), and by 1:00pm, Sarah was transferred safely to the aircraft and cared for by RFDS Flight Nurse Susan Markwell.

Sarah was transferred to Cairns Hospital and had an emergency surgery that night. Thankfully, she made a full recovery and returned home to Weipa.

The surgeon told Sarah that she was incredibly lucky — if she had left it much longer, sepsis would have been an issue.

“Having to leave my young family and being so ill was a tough time, full of fear and uncertainty. The team on my RFDS flight, the doctors, nurses, and paramedics with Queensland Ambulance Service (QAS) in Weipa all took such amazing care of me that I felt safe and supported in these circumstances,” she said.

You can see more about Sarah's story here:

Sarah Ward

Thanks to Rio Tinto for helping the Flying Doctor share Sarah’s RFDS story. 

Rio Tinto has been a valued and proud partner of the RFDS in Queensland since May 2020, helping to improve remote and rural Queensland health services. 

“I’m proud to work for Rio Tinto, knowing they partner with the Flying Doctor in Queensland. It’s support like theirs that helps people like me to access life-saving health services”, said Sarah Ward.

RFDS operates as part of the Queensland Health Aeromedical Network.

Rio Tinto