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Central West Queensland since 1923
Central West Queensland
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11 August, 2020

When the tables are turned: Best man to best mate

QUILPIE’S Donald Truss was best man at Nick Tully’s Charleville wedding. Almost three years to the day later, Tully was piloting his mate in an emergency Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) flight.

By Hamish Hart

At about 6.30am on Mother’s Day, Mr Truss was discovered unconscious by his wife in their family home near Quilpie.

“I remember waking up that morning and having a cup of coffee and feeling fine,” Mr Truss said. “The next thing I recall is opening my eyes and seeing myself hooked up to medical equipment and wondering what was going on.”

Rather than face a two-and-a-half hour drive from the property to Charleville, a decision had been made to transfer Mr Truss to hospital by the RFDS.

RFDS pilot, Nick Tully, was consulted to ensure the aircraft would be able to land on a dirt airstrip not far from the property.

“It is never a call you want to receive,” Mr Tully said. “It’s very hard to put your personal feelings aside and focus on the job at hand.

“I was reassured to know that the property strip was in good condition and that the on-call crew would be able to get to Donald in the shortest possible time.”

“I was fully awake for the flight, which only took around 15 to 20 minutes,” Mr Truss said. “It was a bit unusual as I was hooked up to all these different things and I actually knew the flight nurse.

“I’ve known her for a few years — she’s a top woman. But it was a bit of a shock to wake up and for her to be hovering around me. At least I knew I was in good hands.”

Mr Truss recalls the doctor and nurse working to stabilise his condition and the pilot doing an “extremely good” job to ensure he arrived in Charleville safely.

Following a couple of nights in hospital in Charleville he was transferred, again by the RFDS, to the Princess Alexandra Hospital in Brisbane, where it was discovered he had an insulinoma.

The small, rare tumour produces an excessive amount of insulin, which in turn causes blood sugar levels to drop too low. Encouragingly, surgery in late May to treat the tumour was a success and Mr Truss said he feels much better.

“I go back for a few more tests in December, but it’s looking good,” he said.

While in Brisbane for surgery, Mr Truss celebrated a birthday. In lieu of gifts, his wife Laura took to social media to encourage donations for the RFDS, raising a couple of thousand dollars in the process.

“She was just feeling incredibly grateful to the RFDS, as am I,” Mr Truss said.

“We are both very appreciative to the Flying Doctor as everything turned out exceptionally well. All of the doctors and nurses and pilots do an extremely good job. They are just a great organisation.”


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