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Pitcairn Islands Study Center

News - May 21, 2011

Contact Study Center:

PHONE: 707-965-6244
TEXT:   707-229-1340

Contact Herb Ford:
PHONE: 559-592-0980 or

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  [California Study Center]


PITCAIRN ISLANDS STUDY CENTER, Pacific Union College, Angwin, California USA.

Herbert Ford, 559-592-0980, 559-732-0313.


                        ANGWIN (Napa County) Calif., May 21, 2011—A race by ship and air is on between remote Pitcairn Island in the South Pacific Ocean and a hospital in Tahiti to get medical care for a Pitcairn islander before complications may threaten his life.

Pitcairn resident Terry Young, who began experiencing intense pains last Thursday, is being ferried to Mangareva in the Gambier Islands by a passing yacht. 

The vessel is expected to arrive at Mangareva, 310 miles from Pitcairn , which has the closest airstrip, on Sunday morning (May 22).  There a medical evacuation aircraft will fly him to Tahiti, the closest hospital to Pitcairn, about 1,200 miles from Pitcairn.

Young was taken from his home to the island medical center on Thursday where tests for heart and other health problems proved negative. Further examination resulted in a tentative diagnosis of acute appendicitis. Whether a rupture of Young’s appendix occurs – a sometimes fatal matter – during his long journey to the hospital cannot be known, and, indeed, the question of whether or not appendicitis is the actual cause of the pain is not clear.

There is a long medical history of Pitcairn islanders being afflicted with appendicitis.  In more than one case, death has occurred as an islander was being taken from the  remote island to a hospital for surgery.

With radio calls to commercial shipping in the area for emergency evacuation of Young from Pitcairn proving unsuccessful, those caring for Young on the island were greatly relieved when the skipper of the yacht Xplore responded to their call for help. Sailing from Punta Arenas, Chile, to Tasmania with a call en route in New Zealand, the yacht’s captain agreed to divert to Mangareva with Young before proceeding westward. 

In gratitude for his act of mercy, Pitcairners showered the captain with more than $1,000 worth of island crafts, curios and other items as the yacht departed Pitcairn for Mangareva at just after 5 p.m., on Friday (May 20).

Accompanying Young to care for his needs before reaching more professional care by the crew of the medical aircraft that will meet the yacht at Mangareva, is Pitcairner Melva Evans, who returned to live on Pitcairn about a year ago from Anchorage, Alaska, where she served for a number of years as an emergency medical technician.