EMS Ambulance 30 Nov 2022
Repatriation Stories: a heart attack and a last-minute intervention
When a loved one is taken to hospital overseas, should you let them stay where they are – or try to bring them back home for treatment?
This was the dilemma facing one of our recent clients, a businessman from the Netherlands whose father fell ill while travelling in eastern Europe. Concerned for his parents and desperate to help, he decided to book a private flight to bring his father home. But that’s when things started to get complicated. This is their story, and how EMS was able to step in and help.
Emergency in Serbia
Like so many families, our customer’s repatriation story started with an unexpected phone call. It was his mother, calling urgently from Serbia, where his parents had been travelling for the past few days. His father had fallen ill with chest pains, she explained. He’d been taken to hospital with a suspected heart attack; he was, currently, in a stable condition. Now, however, the doctors seemed to be indicating they were ready to discharge him from the hospital. But it was proving nearly impossible to speak to anyone to find out more.
A DIY repatriation
Worried about the treatment his father was facing, the gentleman told his mother he would fly them both back to Holland immediately. Coming so soon after a heart attack, he knew the flight would need to happen by air ambulance. So he started contacting medical transport companies. He managed to reserve an aircraft. But then he started running into problems. The flight company explained that he’d need to arrange a ground ambulance from the hospital to the airport – and vice versa in Holland. He would also have to book the hospital bed in the Netherlands. But to do that he’d need to speak to the Serbian doctors. And he couldn’t get hold of them.
EMS steps in
Frustrated, and conscious that he was losing time, the gentleman went back online – which was when he stumbled across EMS Ambulance. When he got through to our repatriation experts, he explained the situation. Was there anything we could do to help? After listening to the full story, we were glad to tell him that we would be very happy to take over. We placed an immediate call to one of our medical specialists, Dr Samuel Dhanawade, asking him to take charge of the case and start liaising with the medical teams in Serbia and the Netherlands.
A surprise phone call
Not long after he put the phone down, our client received an unexpected call from his mother. The doctors had just walked into the hospital room in Serbia, she said – the first time she had heard from them in several days. The doctors explained that EMS Ambulance had been in touch. They weren’t going to discharge the patient after all. EMS were on their way to collect him and would fly him home to Holland for treatment.
A treatment dilemma
By this point, it was becoming clear that the patient would need stent surgery (coronary angioplasty) for his heart condition. The question was, where should it take place? We urged our client to consider having the operation in the Netherlands under the surgeons who would be handling his hospital stay, and where he’d be able to access high-quality multidisciplinary care for his recovery. He agreed. The transport went ahead. We brought the patient quickly and safely to the Dutch hospital. Soon after, he was taken into surgery.
A crucial intervention
As it turned out, the decision to have the stent surgery in Holland was a very a good one. When the surgical team visited our family afterwards to brief them on the operation, they explained that they’d discovered myocarditis damage in their patient’s heart during surgery. Fortunately, they’d been able to give him open heart surgery and treat the problem immediately. Thanks to this, he now faced a far better prognosis for recovery. Bringing him home may not have been straightforward but, ultimately, it felt like the right choice.
Interested in reading more on this topic? You may find these articles helpful
- Is medical repatriation safe for our patient?
- Can air ambulances transport stroke patients?
- Cardiology, CVAs and repatriation: why it’s better to go home for care
Are you considering medical repatriation but not sure where to start? We’re here to help! Just get in touch with our friendly experts by phone, email or WhatsApp. Head to our Contact page for the details. You can also get a free, no-obligation cost estimate for your repatriation with our online pricing calculator.