This member was fortunate to be on a liveaboard with plenty of oxygen and a crew who understood that he needed oxygen to manage his condition. This likely contributed to his eventual recovery. The call to DAN was made shortly after the onset of symptoms and this enabled DAN’s assistance team to organise the evacuation to Manila and advise the chamber team so they would be ready to receive the diver.
DCI can occur on what some would consider to be relatively innocent dive profiles. Even though these profiles were well within the limits of this diver’s computer, he became seriously ill. Of note, he did profiles of increasing depth on Day 2 and this is inadvisable and may have impacted his diving the following day. However, this is unclear. Further steps should be taken (particularly when in remote areas) to reduce DCI risk, such as using a conservative setting on your dive computer and following the guidelines above that were suggested to this member.
Through testing, this member was found to have a PFO (heart defect). PFOs are not uncommon and approximately one in four people has this condition. In this case, the hole allowed bubbles to cross the heart, bypassing the filtering provided by the lungs and resulting in serious symptoms. Having a PFO does not mean the end of a diving career. It does mean the diver needs to have a serious discussion with a diving physician to determine their options and how to best manage the increased risk of DCI. In this case, the decision was made to have the hole repaired and to change the way he dives to reduce bubble loading in the body.