Bob's Your Uncle!
Date registered: Feb 2005
Vehicle: The PIG -'83 280 SL 5 speed
Location: Barrie, Ontario, CANADA, eh?
Mentioned: 22 Post(s)
Quoted: 1411 Post(s)
Can you see the irony here?
Teen on cruise ship gets appendectomy at sea
By Tony Perry, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
December 18, 2007
enlargeClick to Enlarge
SAN DIEGO -- Fourteen-year-old Laura Montero was aboard a cruise ship off Baja California when her appendix ruptured late last week, putting her in agony.
The Dawn Princess was out at sea. The ship doctor lacked the anesthesia for an appendectomy.
The teenager from rural Illinois had been enjoying vacation with more than a dozen family members. Now Laura's mother, Trudy Lafield, began to worry that their long-awaited holiday idle on the Mexican Riviera would prove fatal.
But from 550 miles away, the aircraft carrier Ronald Reagan, on a training mission in preparation for deployment to the Persian Gulf, was about to answer a distress call from the Dawn Princess.
At dawn Saturday, the carrier dispatched a rescue helicopter with a doctor and search-and-rescue sailors trained to pluck downed pilots from the ocean.
Immediately a problem arose: The cruise ship doesn't have a deck big enough for a Seahawk helicopter to land. The big chopper would have to hover and hoist Laura in a stretcher-basket. Then they could take her back to the carrier for medical treatment.
The cruise ship would have to position itself so that the wind would give the helicopter maximum lift -- a tricky maneuver even for a skipper accustomed to helicopter landings.
"We needed the Princess to angle more to get us the best winds possible," said Lt. Cmdr. Gregory Leland, the helicopter pilot. "The captain did great."
Navy corpsman Scott Heintschel, part of Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron 4, was lowered to the deck to ensure the basket was secured for the lift.
Lafield couldn't watch.
"I was frantic," said the waitress from Albion, Ill. "I had to go below."
With the chopper hovering 20 feet off the cruise ship's deck, the basket was hoisted slowly. A second hoist was made to retrieve the corpsman. The corpsman and the doctor attended to the girl.
"She was hurtin'," said Heintschel. "She had had some pain meds but it's a rough lift onto the helo. If you have a sore or hot belly, you're going to feel it."
By the time the rescue was made, the two ships had closed to within 50 miles. The flight to the Reagan was quick and Laura was immediately taken to the surgical ward, where doctors and nurses were waiting.
"She was a very sick girl," said Cmdr. George Linville, the ship's surgeon, who performed the operation. "She had gone septic. Untreated for another 24 to 36 hours, it could have been a lot worse."
Appendectomies are not uncommon aboard ship. Just five days earlier, a sailor, one of 6,000 in the ship's crew, had his appendix removed.
Within two hours, Laura's appendix was out and the teenager was in recovery. In the days that followed, she was adopted by sailors, who provided her with T-shirts, teddy bears and a Reagan hat.
"She was a real rock star on the ship," said Capt. Terry B. Kraft, the ship's commanding officer.
The Dawn Princess finished its eight-day cruise Sunday by returning to San Diego. Later that day, the Navy flew Lafield to join her daughter on the Reagan aboard one of their regularly scheduled delivery flights to the ship.
This morning , the Reagan finished its 20-day training mission, docking at North Island Naval Air Station in Coronado. A waiting ambulance took Laura to Rady Children's Hospital in San Diego, where she was scheduled to stay overnight.
As sailors carried her gingerly down the 20 steps from the carrier brow to the dock, the teenager waved and gave a thumbs up to reporters and sailors.
And as the ambulance moved slowly away, Lafield hugged Cmdr. Theron Toole, the Reagan's senior medical officer.
"I'm all for what the Navy does," Lafield said. "I'm Navy 100%."