Italian aircraft carrier medics perform surgery at sea

The medical team aboard the Italian aircraft carrier ITS Cavour has performed a surgical operation on a migrant rescued in the central Mediterranean Sea.

Following an April 11 rescue operation in the central Mediterranean Sea, which led to the rescue of more than 2000 lives from 8 boats spotted by a Luxembourg SW3 Merlin III aircraft, the Frontex operation Triton ship Siem Pilot has asked urgent medical support from operation Sophia assets for a suffering migrant.

The Italian aircraft carrier Cavour, flagship of EUNAVFOR’s mission in the Mediterranean, then rapidly closed distance with the Siem Pilot in order to allow the embarked medical team to board the vessel and visit the migrant.

Having diagnosed a case of peritonitis, the medical team decided to transfer the migrant on board aircraft carrier Cavour to conduct additional analysis in the ship’s hospital and better clarify the clinical condition of the migrant. Afterwards, considering the quickly deteriorating migrant’s health status, the ship’s doctors decided to perform the surgical operation.

According to EUNAVFOR, the surgery which lasted almost 3 hours was successful. After the necessary patient stabilization, the migrant was transferred by an EH 101 helicopter to the Lampedusa Island hospital for the postoperative recovery.

Among migrants saved on April 11, 738 were rescued from a rubber boat and two wooden boats by the German auxiliary ship Frankfurt am Main while the rest were saved by ships deployed to operation Triton.

The Italian aircraft carrier Cavour can be considered a floating hospital as it is equipped with extensive medical capabilities crucial for military but also for humanitarian and disaster relief operations. Moreover, through high‐speed satellite data transmission and specific systems, doctors onboard can take advantage of almost real time diagnosis made ashore by additional radiologists and surgeon.

According to the Italian Navy, Cavour’s hospital has 3 hospitalization rooms with 20 beds altogether (standard hospitalization), one ICU (Intensive Care Unit) with 8 beds, 1 reanimation unit with 4 beds, 2 surgery rooms, MRI and RX machines, a dental cabinet, a pharmacy and analysis laboratories.