Military Incorrectly Grounds Organ Donor Flight
Although the FAA had granted permission to chartered planes to deliver transplant organs before the commercial flight ban was lifted, disruption of air service has still had some impact on the transportation of organs and medical supplies:
- The Royal Canadian Air Force "escorted" and then "handed off" to two Navy F/A-18 jets an airplane carrying a donor heart from Anchorage, Alaska, en route to Seattle. The fighter jets forced the chartered plane to land in Bellingham, Wash. The FAA had approved the flight, but the military was not informed. The heart was taken by helicopter to Seattle where the transplant was performed successfully (AP/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 9/14).
- A pancreas that was en route when the air traffic system was shut down on Tuesday was diverted to a city where the organ could not be used.
- During the flight ban, the Midwest Transplant Network "successfully" transported organs by being the first to apply with the FAA for "lifeguard status," which usually gives flights on medical and humanitarian missions priority for takeoffs and landings. Other such flights have since been granted lifeguard status (Bavley, Kansas City Star, 9/13).
- Military controllers on Tuesday following the attacks opened airspace for a San Diego to Miami delivery of antivenin when a snake handler was in critical condition as a result of a bite from a "rare and deadly" Taipan snake (AP/Dallas Morning News, 9/14).
- Los Angeles-based Amgen Inc. is delivering drugs via trucks instead of airplanes due to the "disruption" of air service. The trucks will deliver the drugs to wholesalers to prevent any delays in getting medication to patients (Los Angeles Times, 9/14).
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