Friday, April 25, 2014


 KOLKATA , THURSDAY,  April 24, 2014 ( page 2)

Half-a-world Flight Without Skull Bone

Patient Flies To Toronto With City Doctor’s Help

" Ivan Lin Chung Was One Of The Chinese Who Had Left India After 1962 "

Kolkata: When 64-year-old Ivan Lin Chung, a Canadian citizen of Chinese origin, was wheeled into a private hospital in Kolkata last February, his right side was paralyzed and his speech had been affected by a clot in the brain. Doctors rated his chances of survival at less than 50%. Removing a skull bone was the only option left to them. They not only operated on him successfully but accompanied him in his 32-hour journey on connecting flights to hand him over to his family members in Toronto.

    Ivan, who was on his way back home after a trip to China, had stopped over in Kolkata to spend the Chinese New Year with relatives. During a two-month stay at the hospital, he suffered a cerebral haemorrhage, forcing doctors to remove his skull bone to ease the pressure on the brain. On April 13, Ivan — a doctor himself — left the city on a Jet Airways flight for Mumbai, en route to Brussels from where he flew business class to his home in Toronto, accompanied by a doctor and a nurse from the hospital. He made the journey lying on a stretcher, semi-conscious and without his skull bone, even as a battery-operated monitor tracked his vital parameters.

    Ivan has not only survived the strenuous, consecutive commercial flights, doctors and relatives in Toronto said he arrived in a pretty good condition. “In fact, he is showing signs of improvement. On Tuesday, he moved his right leg and made an attempt to sit up. We are grateful to the hospital in Kolkata and are pleasantly surprised by the excellent arrangements made by the airline that made the transportation risk-free. We didn’t expect the journey to be so smooth,” said Michael Chung, the patient’s brother.

    Afflicted with multiple illnesses, Ivan had gone to China in November. He arrived in Kolkata last January and had planned to spend a couple of weeks here. On February 4, his right arm suddenly went numb. His nephew got him admitted to the Medica Superspecialty Hospital where a clot in the brain was detected. Ivan remained drowsy and was treated with anti-epileptic and anti-edema drugs. But they failed to prevent the clot from bleeding. It led to a sudden deterioration and doctors had to do an emergency decompressive hemicraniectomy (removal of the skull bone) to reduce the brain pressure. It was done by neuro-surgeons LN Tripathi and Sunandan Basu.

    “It was the only option left and it stabilized his condition. But he improved very slowly since the procedure on February 20. His daughter flew in from Toronto and wanted to take him back. Initially, she sought to arrange for a chartered flight armed with the necessary intensive care equipment. But the cost turned out to be forbidding. Then, we got in touch with Jet Airways who agreed to allot us the last row of their business class and promised medical assistance at the transit points. It was going to be a challenge but we decided to go ahead with the family’s approval,” said Arindam Kar, critical care head at Medica, who flew with Ivan. They were accompanied by nurse Swapnil Thulung.

    At the Kolkata airport, Ivan was wheeled into the medical zone where he went through a clinical examination and was declared fit to fly under supervision. He was put into an ambulance and driven to the aircraft, shifted to a wheel-chair, lifted to the plane and again put back on the stretcher once inside the flight. Kar and Thulung checked the monitor every 20 minutes and injected fluids.
    The process was repeated at the Mumbai airport, where Ivan’s security check-in and immigration formalities were completed at the medical emergency room. On the flight to Brussels, the patient started feeling uneasy. Kar and Thulung swung into action, using medicines and administering clot-dissolution injections twice to stabilize him. “Fortunately, the situation never went out of control. In fact, he took the strain quite well. It was always going to be a risk, though for his skull bone had been taken off. He had been on ventilation for three weeks at the hospital and was obviously very critical,” said Kar.

    At Brussels, Ivan was put through another round of treatment. “Now, we were on the last leg of the journey and felt a little tense. We didn’t obviously want things to go wrong at the final lap. The cabin crew was just as eager to ensure a safe flight,” said Kar.

    It requires a huge amount of coordination to transport such a critical patient across the globe, said Sarvesh Gupta, chairman of the Airlines Operators’ Committee (AOC). “Every transit station has to be prepared and things have to be done on time. For the airline concerned, it is a risk for if anything untoward happens, the flight has to be diverted to the nearest airport which amounts to a loss of time and money. But airlines do take such risks for the sake of helping passengers,” said Gupta.

    Kar felt this could pave the way for more such critical patients to be flown out of the country. “Like Ivan, foreigners often fall ill and require hospitalization in Kolkata, forcing them to be stuck in an alien city. They end up spending much more than they would back home. In this case, Ivan had spent Rs 8 lakh for his treatment in Kolkata. The bill would have run higher if he stayed longer. In Canada, he is being treated free of charge,” explained Kar.

    Ivan’s family is relieved to have him back. “He is doing well now and may soon undergo a surgery to put the skull bone back,” said Michael Chung.

 ( Ivan Was One Of The Chinese Who Had Left India After 1962 )

Incredible journey

Ivan Lin Chung’s right arm went numb On February 4, when he was visiting Kolkata to celebrate Chinese New Year
A clot in the brain was detected and he was treated with anti-epileptic and anti-edema drugs. But they failed to prevent the clot from bleeding
Doctors had to remove his skull bone to reduce the brain pressure
    His daughter flew in from Toronto and wanted to take him back. Could not afford to hire a chartered flight. Decided to fly him business class
    All medical arrangements were made on board and at all transit points. A doctor and a nurse accompanied him throughout
Anxious moments

On flight to Brussels, Ivan Lin started feeling uneasy. The doctor administered clot-dissolution injections twice to stabilize him 

Ivan Lin Chung (left) receives the 2013 Most Outstanding North American Chinese Achievement Award at Newark, California from Democratic California State Assembly Member from the 28th district Paul Fong 

PS :  He Was One Of The Chinese Who Had Left India After 1962

                                                                                                                              Prithvijit Mitra  TNN


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