Airlift care in action

May 15, 2018
Heart transplant patient enjoys riding horses
Morgan rides and competes on horseback

  Morgan Porter underwent a heart transplant at just 3 years old. More than six years later, she recently wound up back at MUSC – this time flying by helicopter from her home in Beaufort. Her mother, Sarah, shared their family’s experience.

Since transplant, Morgan has gotten the occasional illness, like all kids, but it takes a little longer to work through her system, since she’s immunosuppressed. Sometimes she needs an IV fluid bag, but usually we’re able to manage any sickness at home, as long as she can keep her medicine down and stay relatively hydrated.

We thought Morgan had a gastrointestinal bug and took her to the pediatrician after several rough days at home. But tests at the local emergency room determined that Morgan was in sepsis, a life-threatening complication, and needed to be transported immediately to the pediatric cardiac intensive care unit.

My husband, Robby, left by car for MUSC, and our son, Owen, became upset seeing his sister getting loaded onto the aircraft, knowing she was very sick. Morgan remembers her flight, where she received advanced care the entire time.

She tested positive for norovirus at MUSC. Her condition degraded, and she went into septic shock. She spent nearly three weeks in the pediatric cardiac intensive care unit. She was intubated and put on continuous renal replacement therapy, as a team of specialists came together to work through her complex condition and issues—and get her well. 

Having experienced a helicopter transport, we now understand the value in locating the helipad at the MUSC Shawn Jenkins Children’s Hospital. When every minute matters, this collocation could save lives.

As for Morgan, she is back in school and doing great. She recently competed in a horse show and placed second in her division. We never had a doubt or questioned that she would be fine, knowing all the doctors, nurses and staff who work at MUSC. 

Keywords: Patient stories