Saturday, October 22, 2011
Airline Travel & Oxygen
I wrote a blog post “The Best Therapy,” about my love of travel. I received many favorable responses. I was excited about hearing from other people who love to travel, like me, despite dealing with a disability. I was excited until I received a letter written by Dr. Sota Omoigui, from the L.A. Pain Clinic in Hawthorne, CA.
Dr. Omoigui wrote a letter to The Open Hematology Journal, 2010, entitled, “Patients with Hemoglobinopathies Require Continuous Flow Supplemental Oxygen During Commercial Airline Flights.” In this letter Dr. Omoigui identified the results of a study he performed on people with sickle cell disease while they flew on commercial airlines.
The article is complex, but the conclusion is very clear. People with diseases of the hemoglobin (i.e. sickle cell disease) lose oxygen levels during airline flights. Less oxygen levels cause secondary issues like; avascular necrosis, splenic infarctions and bone pain.
Dr. Omoigui suggests, for flights longer than one hour, that commercial airlines should be mandated to provide supplemental oxygen (via nasal cannual). This is wishful thinking, asking airlines to give anything...for free. Maybe, they could be held accountable to comply with the ADA laws to provide "reasonable accomodation" for people with disabilities?
We patients with sickle cell disease could ask our doctors, when we consider flying longer than one hour, for an oxygen prescription. I know I will. I love to travel more than I am vain about carrying a portable oxygen tank with nasal cannula attached.
Check out Dr. Omoigui’s webpage for helpful pain care information:
L.A. Pain Clinic