A dear Award Expert client and friend sent me a frantic What’sApp message yesterday:
Help! My husband has a detached retina and we are in the middle of the sea. We won’t reach Antarctica for three days. The doctor onboard is saying we need to get to Punta Arenas for treatment. The ship will try to reach King George Island late on 12/23 or early on 12/24 for military aircraft to Punta Arenas. What do you suggest? It seems the doctors are better in Santiago. My son found a doctor there.
I’m not a medical expert, just a flight expert. Still, I want to give her good advice. My first thought was medivac from the ship: every hour that detached retina remains detached represents a risk of further, permanent damage. My dear grandmother suffered from retina problems and the first time she experienced discomfort ignored it for a couple days and lost vision in one of her eyes. Thus, time is of the essence. But that idea won’t work because the ship is too small.
To be honest, I had never heard of King George Island before last night. It is the largest of the South Shetland Islands and does have permanent inhabitants plus an airstrip. This will be an unplanned stop on the Antarctic cruise, but does appear like the quickest way to get help.
My clients do have travel insurance via Travelex, though money is not exactly an obstacle. From Punta Arenas I can get them up to Santiago on several daily direct flights or home to New York if necessary.
I know this isn’t directly a points/miles post, but it does involve travel and I thought I would put it out to my incredible readers who may be able to offer guidance. What would you do in this situation?
We take our eyesight for granted, often failing to consider how precious it is. The thought of my client losing his eyesight make me shudder and I want to do everything I can, even though they are halfway between South American and Antarctica, to help.
Any insight is appreciated!