Saturday, October 12, 2013

Government shutdown grounds plane Vanderbilt LifeFlight uses for organ transplants


The airplane that Vanderbilt LifeFlight uses for organ transplants was grounded by the government shutdown because the Federal Aviation Administration had not completed its license renewal by midnight on Oct. 1.

Vanderbilt was without the service for 2½ days as it awaited a replacement aircraft that arrived on the afternoon of Oct. 3. LifeFlight missed two patient transports during that period, but neither of those was related to organ transplantation, said John Howser, a spokesman for Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

“We do not miss organ transplant flights because we have redundancies built into our transplant protocols to accommodate for essentially any circumstance,” Howser said. “The fixed-wing is used for a wide array of medical issues and not just transplantation.”

LifeFlight officials tried to contact FAA officials after Oct. 1 but could not get through to the licensure unit, Howser said.

The FAA has continued to employ workers deemed essential, such as those involved with air traffic control, during the shutdown.


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