Friday 20 April 2018

Seriously ill man travelled on an icebreaker and through rough seas for help

The Aurora Australis at anchor at Davis station
The Aurora Australis at anchor at Davis station

A seriously ill man reached an Australian hospital more than two weeks after he suffered a medical emergency at a remote Antarctic base.

The patient was admitted to hospital in Hobart, Australia's mostly southerly city.

He had travelled aboard an icebreaker 3,000 miles through rough and ice-jammed seas from Australia's Davis Station on the coast of Princess Elizabeth Land.

The Australian Antarctic Division's chief medical officer Jeff Ayton said the patient was transferred by ambulance from the icebreaker, Aurora Australis, to the Royal Hobart Hospital where he remained in serious but stable condition.

"He will require ongoing medical treatment, but we are very pleased he has travelled well over the past couple of weeks and his condition has not deteriorated," Mr Ayton said.

The authorities have released no personal details about the man, who is a tradesman. They have not revealed the nature of his medical emergency, other than to say it was not the result of an accident.

The man arrived at the Australian base in November and was supposed to spend the approaching southern winter there.

He became ill on March 18 only days after the Aurora Australis had resupplied the station and begun its voyage back to Hobart.

When the icebreaker returned to the station, officials had to wait for a break in snow showers so that the patient could be flown across sea ice on March 22.

The icebreaker rolled heavily in swells up to 23ft and winds gusting at 70mph while navigating the treacherous Antarctic Ocean toward Hobart.

The patient was cared for by the ship's doctor with the help of distant specialists using telecommunications equipment designed for remote medical examinations.

Press Association

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