Copter Rescues Stricken Seaman After Long Flight
A Cypriot seaman reportedly suffering from a dangerous blood clot was plucked from his ship in a dramatic helicopter rescue, but surgeons were forced later to amputate both legs.
The seaman, Ioannis Koykiaris, 51, chief engineer of the container cargo vessel Titan, underwent the surgery Thursday and was reported in critical but stable condition afterward.
He was stricken by a blood clot aboard ship 870 miles off the California coast. The clot cut off or reduced circulation to his lower body, causing severe damage, said Dr. Victoria King of Stanford University Medical Center.
California Air National Guard personnel parachuted to the ship Wednesday to aid the man but lost their medical supplies in heavy seas.
A Coast Guard C-130 aircraft then dropped more supplies to the ship, but doctors feared that Koykiaris would die without hospitalization, so the National Guard sent a helicopter to pick him up. The blood clot was reportedly near his heart.
The Air National Guard’s 129th Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Group based at Moffett Field Naval Air Station flew Koykiaris to Stanford in a Sikorsky HH-3 helicopter that required three midair refuelings at 110 m.p.h. during the six hour flight.
King, a reservist with the 129th who accompanied the patient, kept in radio contact during the flight with Dr. William DeCampli, Stanford’s chief resident in vascular surgery.
The Titan was en route from Galveston, Tex., to Shanghai with a load of cotton.