Welcome to this CaringBridge website in support of our dearTom Lane. We are using it to keep family and friends updated in one place, and to share our support and words of hope and encouragement. Thanks for visiting; this site is being hosted by Tom's friends of 50+ years, David Griffeath and Cathy Loeb. What follows is an edited version of an email message that we and many others received this afternoon from Tina Chappel:
As many of you know and for those of you who don't, Tom and good friends, Gary and Susan, left on August 28th for Nepal and then Tibet on a pilgrimage to Mt Kailash, revered as a holy mountain in the Buddhist and Hindu traditions. To circumambulate it, which is known as the kora, is considered an act of great merit. So they flew to Kathmandu, Nepal and the plan was to rest there for 5 days before continuing to Tibet. Kathmandu is at an elevation of 5,000 ft but Tibet's elevation averages 14 to 15,000 ft. Long story short, when Tom arrived in Tibet he became very short of breath, started suffering from altitude sickness, and the guide for this journey deemed it best for him to return to Kathmandu instead of continuing the trip. Gary, who is also a doctor, left his wife Susan to continue the journey and accompanied Tom back to Kathmandu. The 12-hour taxi ride back was extremely harrowing over steep muddy unimproved roads in the rain, after which Tom was immediately admitted to a hospital, still suffering from altitude sickness. The facility is a travel medicine center, CIWEC, which caters mostly to Westerners; Tom went right into the ICU.
Tina received a call from Gary on Friday, September 13 about all this and the doctors sent her a medical report which indicated that he also had fluid in his lungs, atrial fibrillation, and some rectal bleeding. Subsequent reports described the lung condition as "community acquired pneumonia" so they put him on antibiotics. Further testing determined that the lung infection was more virulent than originally diagnosed so a different and stronger antibiotic was administered. Throughout this whole ordeal, Gary has been wonderful, at Tom's bedside every day in the hospital. Communication with Gary, Tom, medical staff, hospital administrators and the Kaiser insurance company, who are mercifully handling all hospital costs, has been excellent. Tina has been apprised every step of the way and able to talk to Tom every day, despite the 12 hour time difference. Tom was sounding stronger and better each day, so she was investigating rebooking his return flight to get him home sooner.
This morning, however, the hospital called Tina to say that his doctors had diagnosed an embolism (blood clot) in his lung from a CAT scan and felt that he should be transferred to a more comprehensive medical facility. Due to this more serious condition, and the possible limitations at his present location, Gary, the current medical staff, and the Kaiser medical team all felt he should be medivacked to a higher-grade facility in Thailand, 5 hours away by plane. To complicate matters, the medical team at Allianz, the insurance company handling the trip insurance Tom bought, wanted to send him to a closer facility in New Delhi, India. However, Tina, Tom's current doctors, Gary, and Kaiser all agree that India would be the wrong choice. After a long morning Tina was able to give Tom the news that Allianz has agreed to medivac him to Thailand.
The current plan is to fly him tomorrow, Thursday. The latest details are as follows --
Flight plan, Thursday 19 September 2019 15.00pm. Take off from Bangkok (Local time) 17.30pm Arrive Kathmandu Intl Airport (Local time) 18.30pm Estimated pick up time at Ciwec hospital (Local time) 19.00pm Estimated time leaving hospital (Local time) 20.30pm Take off from Kathmandu (Local time) 23.00pm Arrive Bangkok (Donmuang Airport) (Local time) (Approximately 30 minutes ground transport to Samitivej Srinakarin Hospital)