Boxer Medical Performs Emergency Surgery, Saves Leyte Gulf Sailors' Life

Story Number: NNS110618-13Release Date: 6/18/2011 9:39:00 PM
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By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (SW) Robert Guerra and Seaman Susan C. Schelcherepierre, USS Enterprise Public Affairs

USS LEYTE GULF, At Sea (NNS) -- A Sailor aboard guided-missile cruiser USS Leyte Gulf (CG 55) was medically evacuated to amphibious assault ship USS Boxer (LHD 4) for emergency surgery June 13.

The Leyte Gulf Sailor was transported to Boxer by a helicopter assigned to the "Smoking Aces" of Helicopter Anti-submarine Squadron Light (HSL) 48, where she received an emergency appendectomy within hours of her initial diagnosis.

The decision to transport the Sailor was made after examinations aboard Leyte Gulf indicated she was suffering from appendicitis on the evening of June 12.

"She came in complaining about a stomach ache," said Chief Hospital Corpsman Richard Clements, Executive Department's HM division leading chief petty officer. "After prescribing medication for nausea we asked her to return the following morning if the symptoms persisted or worsened."

The following morning the pain continued and once again she returned for treatment.

Corpsman aboard Leyte Gulf conducted preliminary lab tests to rule out other diagnoses. Physical exam findings including direct tenderness to palpation, rebound tenderness and referred pain suggested likely appendicitis.

Clements said the Sailor exhibited several clinical signs of appendicitis right from the start.

"Corpsman began intravenous drips and lab work while arrangements were made to get her to the appropriate facility for care," said Clements.

After careful consideration of treatment options, Boxer was chosen as the nearest available resource for treatment. At 2 p.m. the helicopter air lifted the Sailor to awaiting medical staff aboard Boxer.

That evening, General Surgeon, Lt. Cmdr. Jeff Kang, part of Fleet Surgical Team Three embarked aboard Boxer, performed laparoscopic surgery to successfully remove the infected appendix.

"Each ship in theater has medical capabilities that allow it to manage the majority of situations they may face," said Kang. "Boxer, with its large medical contingent and surgical suites, functions as the referral hospital within the region, much like a civilian trauma center accepts transfers from surrounding smaller health facilities. It's very gratifying to be able to provide this kind of service, which we are well trained for, but not often able to utilize."

Because of rapid attention and recommendations, both Leyte Gulf and Boxer medical staff were able to provide life saving treatment.

"Communication up and down the ship was flawless," said Clements. "It took the efforts of everyone, from the medical staff here and aboard Boxer, the guys in Operations hammering out the flight details and the entire crew to make this operation a success."

The patient is currently in recovery and under the supervision of the attending surgeon aboard Boxer.

Leyte Gulf is deployed as part of Enterprise Carrier Strike Group (CSG) in support of maritime security operations in the U.S. 5th and 6th Fleet areas of responsibility.

For more news from USS Enterprise (CVN 65), visit

USS Boxer (LHD 4) transits the Indian Ocean during well deck operations.
Official U.S. Navy file photo.
March 31, 2011
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