Newly appointed IAG Accredited Service Provider, Brasil Vida, recently conducted a rare ECMO air ambulance mission for our Brazilian Core Partner, Premium Assistance.

ECMO (Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation) is a medical procedure where a patient’s blood supply diverts to specialist, external equipment for oxygenation and then returned to the body. Used in life-threatening situations with the heart or lung, and it is rarely conducted outside of a tertiary-level cardiothoracic centre .

The 32-year old customer of Premium Assistance desperately needed a lung transplant. Unfortunately, this was not possible in Natal, the capital city of Brazil’s North Eastern province, where the patient was under intensive care. So, the solution was to transport her 2,500 kilometres, initially by road and then air ambulance, to a leading medical facility in Sao Paolo, where that transplant was achievable.

Brasil Vida assembled a skilled team comprised of: An intensive care physician, a thoracic surgeon, a perfusionist (an ECMO machine expert) and a specialist nurse.




“This was a difficult case due to the patient’s instability. It requires careful handling with boarding and disembarking from the aircraft, plus constant monitoring from hospital to hospital,” explained Ramon Mesquita, an aeromedical nurse and part of the team. She concluded, gratefully: “The mission was ‘uneventful.’”

Dr Renato Bisol, co-ordinating the mission, explained the fragile nature of ECMO: “You cannot rush transportation by ground, or air. The patient is connected only via a cannula. If dislodged, the typical scenario is catastrophic. And, the complexity of the ECMO equipment does not tolerate rough journeys. The procedure cannot be interrupted, at any point.”

Dr Renato expanded by stating:” Hospital-to-hospital transfer requires a clinical specialist, highly experienced in the use of ECMO equipment. That specialist and the whole team must be able to deal with the challenges faced during transportation.”


Deploying their dedicated Lear jet 31A, Brasil Vida obtained particular, and crucial, authorisation to land at the Brazilian Air Force base in Natal. The jet has essential space for both the medical team plus equipment and the agility to undertake such a critical flight.

Natal’s State Highway Police was also involved, providing an escort between the hospital and airfield.


Brasil Vida Taxi Aereo

Last year, Brasil Vida conducted an average of almost 4 missions, per day, from their bases in Brazil. Of those cases, 4 involved ECMO.

A family-run business, they joined us as an Accredited Service Provider soon after the IAG Forum in Bogota, earlier this year.


Premium Assistance

Joined us as Core Partner for Brazil in 2011, and part of the OMINT Group.

Premium Assistance is a leading provider of assistance backed travel insurance for those travelling internationally or within the vast Brazilian landscape.