Meet an Air Ambulance Patient Erin Gilbert
Read Air Ambulance Patient Erin Gilbert Full Story
The AeroMD team recently reunited with former Air Ambulance patient Erin Gilbert. The St. Croix resident and her family came to the Henry E. Rohlsen Airport to meet with some of the flight medics Erin credits with saving her life, including AeroMD Flight Respiratory Therapist Wendy Schaumburg and Flight Paramedic Justin McConnell.
Alongside Erin, were her husband Packy (her companion on the 2019 medical evacuation flight), and their three young children.
Erin (then just 35 years old), shared that over several days in August 2019, she developed shortness of breath, fever and other symptoms. After calling her doctor, she was advised to go to the emergency room. Erin was diagnosed with acute respiratory distress syndrome. Due to the severity of her case, her state quickly digressed. Erin flatlined and was resuscitated six times over the course of her hospital admission. It was determined that extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) was needed, specialized equipment which was not available on-island. After Erin stabilized enough to fly safely, AeroMD took her to Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami. There she spent more than two weeks on ECMO, followed by eight surgeries, and five months of recovery. After doctors ruled out bacterial, fungal and viral infections, it was thought that a contaminated product she vaped may have caused her condition.
Blood clots which formed in Erin’s lungs during the acute respiratory distress syndrome migrated to her legs, resulting in the need to partially amputate both her lower limbs. Because blood clots in the lungs or heart may be fatal, Erin said she feels blessed the clots instead moved to her legs. She has found a combination of prosthetics, cane and wheelchair that enable her mobility. Erin can drive a car and is learning to surf again.
Following her rehabilitation, Erin stayed additional months in the states for follow-up appointments and outpatient treatments. For subsequent years, she traveled to the states and back for prosthetic fittings, which are now available to her on-island.
Erin shared that she’s still on her recovery journey, adjusting to life after her accident. She is grateful to be alive and able to raise her three young children on island. The Gilbert family co-owns Leatherback Brewery, with locations on St. Croix and St. Thomas.
“AeroMD saved my life. I wouldn’t be here without their team.” Erin Gilbert (Patient)
The AeroMD team wishes to thank the Gilbert family for their time and willingness to bravely share their story. The details of this case were shared only with their express written permission.
AeroMD Air Ambulance serves our neighbors throughout the Caribbean and worldwide.
“My best case for survival was to be taken off-island.”
Charles Jaquays, AeroMD Patient
“You guys saved [my husband's] life.”
Eileen des Jardins, Patient Companion
“If it wasn't for [AeroMD], I wouldn't be here today.”
Hayley Rodriguez, AeroMD Patient