A male patient, 45 years old, was enjoying a three-week Safari vacation with his family when tragedy struck.
While taking pictures on a waterhole, a hippo started running towards the safari group. Whilst the group quickly jumped into their waiting safari cars, the patient tripped and fell – leading to the hippo launching a massive attack. The patient was ejected into the air, severely bitten, and suffered massive wounds and blood loss in addition to having a portion of his buttock and thumb amputated. The patient was immediately airlifted to the nearby hospital for emergency procedure.
With a grave diagnosis of deep and massive lacerations on both buttocks, thighs, legs, elbows, back, and upper body, severed muscles and tendons alongside the amputation of his thumb, it became instantly clear that the patient was in dire need of life-saving surgery and would require prolonged extensive treatment in his home country. As the wounds were severely soiled due to the grass and dirt on the ground, the specialist team at the South African Hospital decided to first clean out the wounds multiple times before repairing the damage and closing the massive gashes.
The patient’s emergency treatment took several hours with the patient being conscious and breathing without intubation.
As the wounds remained open, the patient required constant observation, multiple blood and plasma transfusions as well as an extensive antibiotics therapy. A week after the attack, and after the patient’s wounds had been closed, Malteser’s Medical Assistance Team declared that the patient was fit to fly. They handed over the case to Malteser’s Flight Operations Team, who activated dedicated Air Ambulance partner Quick Air to perform the flight.
Transporting the patient back to Germany
Upon receiving the mission activation, the team at Quick Air immediately started to plan the routing, schedule, and the crew composition whilst Malteser’s operation center informed the medical crew on duty as Malteser’s assessment doctor conducted another evaluation with treatment doctor on-site to assure the patient was fit to fly. Within a few hours, Quick Air’s Learjet left to pick up the patient from South Africa.
Managing the patient’s intense pain alongside a comfortable positioning due to its extensive wounds were two of the most important aspects in the transport planning. Upon arrival, the team immediately connected with the treating doctor and visited the patient in the hospital for on-site evaluation. The patient’s family was also informed, as they were travelling home the next day to be at the patient’s side upon arrival. The receiving hospital in Germany had already confirmed a bed in the intensive care unit of their surgical ward as the patient would require several surgeries to repair the extensive damage done by the hippo attack.
Fully monitored and under constant pain medication the patient remained stable and conscious during the whole flight. The crew assured that the patient not only experienced a painless transport but was reasonably comfortable after his incredible ordeal.
Upon arrival in Germany, the waiting ambulance took the patient and Malteser’s Medical Crew to the receiving hospital, where not only a thorough handover was done but where the patient’s loved ones were already anxiously awaiting his arrival.
An out-of-the-ordinary case
The case was not only out of the ordinary in regard to the circumstances, but presented a challenge due to the severe pain and discomfort the patient was constantly in. Having deep lacerations all over his body, a comfortable positioning on the stretcher was only possible with regular changes of his position to avoid any excess pressure on his wounds. However, the Crew at Quick Air and Malteser assured that the patient arrived safely and comfortably back in Germany.