A doctor in Cagayan de Oro was tasked to accompany a 6-day old infant to Manila for emergency heart surgery. Joining her was the sick baby’s father, who chose to fly commercial because chartering an air ambulance would cost nearly half a million pesos.
When they left the hospital at 4:00 AM to catch a 6:30 AM flight, they weren’t expecting the ordeal that was waiting for them.
The post about the doctor’s bad airline experience has since been removed from Facebook but you can read it in its entirety below:
“I accompanied a 6 day old baby with a congenital heart disease for an emergent cardiac surgery to Manila yesterday. We needed to fly commercial since the ambulance plane cost almost half a million.
The baby was hooked to an oxygen and IVF on our way to the airport. We left the hospital at 4AM to catch the 6:30AM flight. When we were about to board the plane, the crew told us that we can not bring an oxygen cylinder inside the plane and replace it with an electric oxygen concentrator.
The father complained that he was just advised to bring a portable O2 so naturally he bought the 7K portable cylinder. But since the father wanted so much to bring his child to Manila for surgery, he went back to the hospital in CDO (which was a 1 hour ride) to look for the electric oxygen concentrator.
We were waiting at the breastfeeding room when the plane already left. The next flight was at 9 AM so I thought, the father will arrive in the airport just in time for the 2nd flight. The father came with the oxygen concentrator relieved that we are finally going to Manila. When we tried to plug in the device in the aircraft, the outlet was 120V! The father was so disappointed that no one in the crew told him that the outlet was 120V.
I asked the crew if we can use their emergency O2 tank inside the plane instead. But the crew told us that the cylinder tank was ONLY for emergency! I blurted, isn’t this considered an emergency?! The baby needs O2 during the flight. They told us that it is only used in emergency during the flight and not when the plane is still on the ground! So again, we weren’t able to board the plane.
The father was advised to look for a transformer. Again, we waited patiently at the breastfeeding room until the father can provide the transformer. It has been more than 6 hrs and we ran out already of portable oxygen, thus we were already using the electric oxygen concentrator at the breastfeeding room. We also ran out of breastmilk for the baby. Good thing a female (airline) crew donated breastmilk.
At last, the father had the transformer! We were all ready to board the plane. But when they asked permission from the captain, they wouldn’t allow us to board the plane since the baby is only 6 days old, plus they wont allow us to bring the transformer!
The 3rd plane flew without us! We were all exahausted and disappointed. I, the nurse and the father pleaded to the assistant supervisor to let us ride the plane but to no avail. I asked them to elevate this to their boss since I can not allow my patient to stay in CDO, wait and die without the chance of having a surgery. The father was crying because he gave in to all their demands but was refused to fly.
The 4th plane came at 3PM. Finally, the Doctor in Manila allowed us to fly the plane but without the oxygen! We decided to just board the plane even WITHOUT oxygen since we were too desperate to give the baby a chance to have the surgery. I told the crew that we will definitely need their emergency O2 tank when we are on air. We prayed for the baby to be ok while waiting inside the plane without O2.
We arrived in Manila at 5PM after greater than 10 hours of sweat, tears, exasperation and disappointment.
NEVER AGAIN flying with the same airline.”
The airline has since issued an apology for not being able to “fly them sooner.” It maintains that its strict adherence to safety procedures remains its top priority. It has also expressed willingness to help the family as they make their way back home to Cagayan de Oro.
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