Fri, Jul 13, 2007 - Page 2 News List

Baby's medivac flight from Penghu sparks criticism

By Angelica Oung  /  STAFF REPORTER

Medical personnel transporting a three-month-old infant to Tri-Service General Hosptital in Taipei via C-130 Hercules for treatment leave Penghu Tri-Service General Hospital yesterday.

PHOTO: CNA

A sick infant was airlifted by a military helicopter from Penghu to Taipei yesterday for emergency treatment for collapsed lungs and retina problems. While the flight went smoothly, it left ripples in its wake.

The three-month-old baby was transported to the Tri-Service General Hospital in Taipei for treatment, which prompted some criticism from health officials because of the distance involved.

Ministry of National Defense spokesman Major General Yu Sy-tue (虞思祖) confirmed the ministry offered to transport the baby at the instruction of President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁). The president had talked with Minister of National Defense Lee Tien-yu (李天羽) and they agreed to allow the use of the military helicopter.

The C-130 Hercules took off from the Air Force's Pingtung base around 9:50am, arrived in Penghu around 10:50am, picked up the baby and her mother and arrived in Taipei around 11:30am.

The baby, who was escorted by a Tri-Service medical team during the airlift, was reported to be doing well, hospital sources said.

She had been born prematurely at Penghu Tri-Service General Hospital, weighing just 675g. She now weighs about 1,400g.

Mary Huang (黃美娜), chief of the Department of Health's Bureau of Nursing and Health Service Development, said she respected the decision to ferry the baby and her mother to Taipei, but the mother's demands had been "unreasonable."

The mother demanded the baby be taken to Taipei instead of Kaohsiung, which the National Aeromedical Approval Center's (NAAC) designates as the destination for evacuations from Penghu.

"The longer the baby is in the air the greater the danger" NAAC executive medical director Tsai Shin-han (蔡行瀚) said. "There are nine bases, each serving a designated area and with a protocol for sending the patients to a hospital within their district."

"The baby would have gotten first-class care in either Kaohsiung or Taichung," Huang said. "We are not required to cater to the mother's first choice in hospitals, only to take her baby to a place where she can receive the medical care she needs."

The NAAC was se up in October 2002 to provide emergency medical transport for people on Penghu, Matsu and Kinmen by taking them to closest hospitals that meet their needs on Taiwan.

Additional reporting by Jimmy Chuang and CNA

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