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PHD. MBA. MHS. Type rated on A350, A330, B777, B747-400, B747-200, B757, B767, B737, B727. International Airline Pilot / Author / Speaker. Dedicated to giving the gift of wings to anyone following their dreams. Supporting Aviation Safety through training, writing, and inspiration. Fighting for Aviation Safety and Airline Employee Advocacy. Safety Culture and SMS change agent.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Delta Pilot in Need of Prayers

In pursuit of getting all captains Theater Qualified, Delta had scheduled experienced pilots to fly to Ghana to share their wisdom of getting in and out of Africa. Dereck Camacho was one of those pilots.

My last flight into Ghana, the end of August, was the A330's last flight in there for the year. This particular trip, Dereck brought his lovely wife, Jacqui.

Jacqui and Dereck posing with the cheese board.
Yes, there is always a story.

Not only did Dereck share his wisdom of routing and communications, but he was also the ultimate tour guide. He took the crew to town to buy drums, to the Rain Forest, on the Canopy walk, and to a nice beach for lunch. The stories they told poolside, the night of their return, spoke of the wonderful time they'd had.  I missed the great tour because I stayed back to work on my novel.

The night of our departure, I had been concerned because I'd gotten a couple bites. Dereck had told me not to worry, and I didn't. But I made sure to eat my the remainder of my Malaria drugs. The problem with the pilots like Dereck, who flew there every month, a continual diet of that stuff plays havoc on your liver. They are in a no win situation.
Last night I received an email that brought bad news.

Jacqui said,  "Dereck got malaria and in the worst way possible. He got the worst strain and has been in critical care ICU for the past 8 days. Things are stabilizing now, but it slow and has been very traumatic for me and my kids as well as all our friends and extended family..."

My heart goes out to Dereck, Jacqui, and their sons. Jackie is blogging daily on Dereck's progress. She and her family are counting on the prayers, and energy, from everyone to help pull him through this. She needs Dereck by her side.

Please drop by her blog to keep updated.
Jacqui's Blog

~ Karlene


  1. Will take a look at Jacqui's blog, sincerely hope all turns out OK, sure it will.

  2. Thank you are a good soul. I forgot you took that photo. Just you keep your health checked even though you were on the anti-malaria pills. I cannot deal with someone else going through this ordeal.

  3. Thank you! I will make sure. I had sent the pictures to Dereck... but I know why he never responded. Hang in there... Good health will be there soon!

  4. If every once in a while a crew member was shot and killed in a particular destination, I'd like to think we'd stop going there.
    What's the difference?
    So, they are given a choice of probably liver damage or a chance of a life threatening illness.
    For this place: Risk > Reward.

  5. Hey Bill, Yes on the risk > reward. But it's amazing how low threat they think this is down there. Flight Attendants are not required to take the meds.. And they all told me that I shouldn't. That it was a waste. That they'd been going there for years. And it's amazing how complacent we can get without trying. First time, I'm greasing up with my skin so soft and deet. Second trip, only skin so soft. Third night... put some on my exposed skin, totally forgot under the clothes and I got bit through my pants. Nasty little bugs. But... I was taking my meds, and drank 5 cans of tonic water on the flight home. The interesting thing never know if the meds will keep you safe.
    Yeah... hindsight. But maybe a good message for all.

  6. Karlene, it's very sad to read about your colleague, Dereck Camacho. The falciparum form of Malaria is by far the most serious, though the others can be pretty horrible as well. I truly hope the treatment he is receiving is effective, and I will be sending all my positive thoughts his way.

    I spent some time on Epi Island earlier this year, one of the remoter islands of Vanuatu. Malaria is rife there, in both the falciparum and the vivax forms. There were mosquitos by the million, especially in the evenings and I know I was bitten despite taking great care.There are only 3 flights a week onto the island (BN Islander) and I was all prepared.. or so I thought.
    Through an unfortunate mix-up, my anti-malarials were back in Port Vila, and though the clinic had the various malaria treatments, it had none of the preventatives. I had begun my course of Doxycycline, but now I had none! Thankfully, three weeks passed without incident, but then the symptoms take at least that long to manifest.
    The treatment for the two forms there on Epi are very different, and there were no test kits.. They too were in Port Vila and not available to the residents of Epi or the poor sods who were staffing the clinic! So we treated people by administering BOTH types of medication. Not ideal, but effective if it was caught quickly enough.

    Of course, after I flew out and returned to this cold part of the world, I came down with the symptoms.. And indeed I had malaria. It was the milder form, but it was still hideous. Interestingly, of the five westerners on Epi at the time, four ended up with it. Two of the others were taking preventatives, so it certainly isn't a guarantee.

    There is often a recurrence of the illness, and these can occur months or even years after. Because the parasites remain in the liver, the symptoms return when these become 'active' again. It is unclear what triggers these reactivations, but it does not happen in every case. It also varies depending on the strain. The recurrences aren't always as severe as the initial illness, which is the good news.

    I hope your time off is going well. It must be great to be with the family!

    I will indeed be sending my positive thoughts Dereck's way.

  7. Simon, Thank you so much for sharing your experience and knowledge of Malaria. I know he will receive your positive thoughts.
    And thank you for letting us know that the preventative measures are not necessarily the guarantee. I hope you stay healthy too!

  8. In this day and age, there is no reason for anti malarial medications to not be 100% effective. I cringe to think about those who have gone through what my husband went through and worse yet, those who went through and didn't make it.
    I know that my journey is far from over with this near call. We have a lot of emotional hurdles and fears to overcome. I will always be there for him, no matter what. It will be another slow climb uphill from here, but he will get there. Thanks for posting this and to Simon for sharing his experience. Karlene.....please take good care of yourself. If I find out you go sit by the pool in ACC with shorts on again, I'm gonna find you and slap you silly! I rather you sit in your room and work on your novel.

  9. Hey Jax, I promise no shorts at the pool...but a good slapping might be needed. :)
    Okay.. check out this story of inspiration!
    XOXO Karlene

  10. Wow, what a post. I've had some close calls with malaria in Batam, Indonesia - but I never realized how close until now. My son-in-law is on Epi right now - I'm going to send him Simon's comment and have him link to Jacqui's blog.

    I don't think we realize, as pilots, how often we are placed in harm's way on layovers. I remember the riots in Seoul - so much tear gas you couldn't sleep at night, and Moltov (sp?) cocktails igniting crew bags....

    By the way, Jacqui's photography is awesome!! I'm so glad Derek is getting better...

  11. Hi Kathy, Jacqui is beautiful isn't she! You're so right about the harms way over the years. I think we just have to be smart and be safe. Thanks so much for your comment!


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