Generous air ambulance owner to bring coma man home

This article was originally published by Independent.

THE big-hearted owner of an air ambulance company came to the rescue of a comatose Cork man yesterday who would otherwise be stranded in London after a gruelling flight from Australia.

David Hall, managing director of Lifeline Ambulances in Co Dublin, last night confirmed his company will provide free air ambulance transport for 29-year-old David Keohane when he returns to London from Sydney on Monday, where he has been on a life-support system.

He was viciously assaulted last month during an apparent robbery in a beachside resort.

The flooring contractor, from Ballyvolane, has been in a medically-induced coma ever since the brutal attack left him with severe head injuries requiring massive facial reconstruction, after he was left for dead in his adopted home of Coogee Beach, outside Sydney, on August 9.

David’s parents, Rita and Tom, and his sister Sinead have maintained a vigil at his hospital bedside since the attack and made arrangements with medical staff to fly him home after he was well enough to be taken off life support.

Australian airline Qantas agreed to take out a few seats in its first-class section in order to set up a fully-equipped medical stretcher and oxygen machine that would enable David to fly home accompanied by his family and medical attendants on Monday.

But a distraught Sinead rang the ‘Liveline’ programme on RTE Radio in desperation yesterday, when she learned that Aer Lingus, which she intended to use to bring David back home, could not provide the necessary equipment to accommodate the stretcher and subsequently refused to take him as a passenger.

“David is still unconscious but we just want to bring him home,” she told host Joe Duffy.

“There’s not much more the doctors can do for him. We just want him to wake up,” she said.

But Mr Hall immediately responded by ringing ‘Liveline’ and offering his assistance.

“We’re now coordinating the final leg of the journey,” he told the Irish Independent last night.

The flight, on a private air ambulance with at least two medical staff accompanying him, would normally cost close to €16,000, he said.

But Mr Hall said he is happy to provide the service free of charge.

“They’ve had enough hassle over the past weeks,” he said, adding that Aer Lingus is not really to blame as it is not properly equipped to provide what he called ‘specialist travel arrangements’.

Mr Hall’s generous offer was dramatically broadcast on the programme and brought sister Sinead close to tears. She breathed an audible sign of relief, telling him “that’s fantastic. Thank-you”.

Even the normally unflappable host Joe Duffy said he was “gobsmacked” by Mr Hall’s kind dig-out.

Cork University Hospital has offered to take Mr Keohane on his return to Ireland.