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emzantsi emzantsi's picture
International Travel

Can any of you give me advice on international air travel with an LVAD? I live in South Africa but travel fairly regularly for work to the rest of Africa, Europe and the Middle East. For long haul flights I really need to shift to my mains adapter (the same one I use at night) to preserve my batteries, especially if I've had a busy day before leaving South Africa or have a busy day ahead at my destination. I found out about the FREMEC (Frequent Medical Traveler) card and have applied and been turned down by both South African Airways and Emirates, on the basis that their regulations only allow medical passengers to plug in equipment for oxygen or life support. All other medical equipment must be powered by batteries, which would mean that I need to carry lots of batteries with me! That's an option but I would need to carry six batteries around with me on international travel. Has anyone any advice from their experience?

fredL fredL's picture
Air travel with an L-vad

I have only flown within the USA since receiving my pump and I call the TSA first to give them my flight info, they have always been very knowledgeable and accommodating. Maybe foreign airlines and security not so much. I have made business card sized illustrations of how the system works in case I encounter someone who hasn't heard of such a thing. Ask for a supervisor. Call your airline to ask for their advice.
I have four batteries packed with my charger and two in my emergency back-up kit plus the two that are in use, so that's plenty of time worth. Layover and plug in if you have delays. I use two rigid carry-on wheeled suitcases for all my equipment plus anything I wouldn't put in checked baggage anyway and they're not too heavy to handle. Some airlines don't count medical equipment against your carry-on allowance but check with airline. I ordered some Red Cross stickers for all over my two suitcases and bag to make it quite clear what they are without a language problem. Good luck.