Tony's Story


2-3 Jan 2018

Tony needed an intensive care unit. We gave him one that flies.

Christine is still shaken by the thought of what might have been, had the Flying Doctor not flown her partner, Tony, to Perth in time.

The couple - who've been together for 20 years and live just outside of Albany - had spent the day whale watching, when 66-year-old Tony began to complain of pain in his stomach.

Christine remembers: "He kept telling me it was getting worse, so I phoned the Health Direct Nurse. It was very frightening." Christine was instructed to call an ambulance straight away.

When he arrived at the local hospital, things rapidly got worse. "He kept complaining about the pain; no matter how much pain relief they gave him, it just wasn't working."

Finally, with Tony asleep, Christine was told to go home and rest. At 3am, she awoke to a call from the hospital with terrible news. "They discovered a severe blood clot. He then had emergency surgery to remove his large bowel."

To recover from the surgery, Tony urgently needed specialist care beyond what was available at the local hospital. Perth was four and a half hours away by road.

Tony's condition was critical. To get him to Fiona Stanley Hospital, the Royal Flying Doctor Service was the only service equipped to provide him with the life saving medical care he required to survive the journey.

Tony needed to be in a sedated state to be moved, with drugs administered to support his blood pressure, and continuous monitoring of his vital signs. To keep him stable - and alive - he needed the expert care of a doctor, as well as emergency medical equipment, similar to what an Intensive Care Unit (ICU) can provide.

Christine recalls: "It was incredibly scary. They told me to come and say my goodbyes; it was looking like he wasn't going to make it."

The Royal Flying Doctor Service, with our on-board medical team and specialist equipment, are able to transport patients to the care they need. Most importantly, like a flying ICU, our aircraft offer immediate, emergency medical care. Life-saving treatment can begin from the moment the patient boards our aircraft.

Christine was very grateful for the care our Flying Doctors gave: "they told me, 'don't worry, we'll take very good care of him'. And they did; they were brilliant."

Tony spent nearly four weeks recovering in Fiona Stanley Hospital. He would also need the Flying Doctor for a further flight due to post-op complications. It's been nearly six months since his emergency flight, and despite needing a colostomy bag, today Tony is well on his way to a full recovery. "He's great now. We saw his surgeon recently, and they may be able to reconnect his bowel soon."

Christine is proud to say she's been a long-time supporter too: "I have donated to the Flying Doctor for 20 years, and I'm so glad I have. People living and travelling across the state just couldn't get by without them."

With your support, we can continue to provide life-saving aero medical services to those living, working and travelling across Western Australia.