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Intermountain Life Flight saves young boy in jet debut

Posted at 4:17 PM, Apr 27, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-27 18:17:03-04

SALT LAKE CITY — Intermountain Life Flight unveiled the newest addition to its fleet as the medical transport program now has a state of the art, long range jet.

The aircraft can be used to transport patients who need specialized care that isn’t available in Utah, and assist in picking up and delivering organs for transplant procedures quickly and with the most efficiency.

“Life Flight exists for one reason and one reason only, and that is to take care of the people of this community,” said Dr. Bill Beninati, the director of Intermountain Life Flight. “This aircraft allows us to take that to a higher level.”

Before making its official debut, the jet named “Challenger” was put to good use.

Last month, a 6-year-old boy named Ezra Partridge of Draper experienced cardiac arrest. While on life support, the boy’s condition failed to improve.

A cardiologist based in Houston, Tex. informed Ezra’s parents about a specialized surgery.

“We really had no other choice,” said Zane Partridge, Ezra’s father. “It was either he dies or he gets this specialized treatment.”

In this life-or-death situation, a team of medical professionals from Intermountain Primary Children's Hospital and Life Flight loaded Ezra on the plane and flew him to Texas.

He emerged from the surgery and subsequent rehab with a clean bill of health and was flown back to Utah. Just weeks after fighting for his life, the energetic boy is once again playing with his siblings and enjoying life.

“You love your children. When they get put in that situation, when they are dying — you realize how much you love that person,” Zane said.

Zane describes this new airplane as a sign of hope that gives patients and their families every possible option for care.

Ezra was the first to experience the plane’s benefits and won’t be the last. The plane will help Intermountain Healthcare fill gaps for procedures that can’t be performed in Utah.

“We have advanced medical care in Salt Lake City, but there are some very, highly specialized things,” said Dr. Beninati. “Sometimes people in our community need to go places for very specialized care.”

The plane can transport eight people and fly 4,600 miles in a single trip. It has a spacious cabin that allows for complex medical care while in flight.

The expense to travel on the plane is often covered by insurance.