Seriously Ill US Engineer Could Leave South Pole Soon

Cargo plane may rescue Renee Douceur if Antarctic weather allows
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 12, 2011 12:56 AM CDT
A Canadian plane lands at Amundsen-Scott South Pole station for a rescue mission in 2003.   (Getty Images)

(Newser) – A sick American engineer who has been stranded at the South Pole since late August could be on her way home as soon as Friday. Renee Douceur—who suffered what she initially thought was a stroke but doctors now say may be a brain tumor—hopes to fly out on a British cargo plane scheduled to arrive during a brief break in the harsh weather at the Amundsen-Scott South Pole station, AP reports. Raytheon Polar Services, which manages the station for the National Science Foundation, refused to arrange an evacuation on medical grounds.

Douceur, a nuclear engineer and the station manager, says her math skills have degenerated to a sixth-grade level, and she is suffering vision and speech problems. She's worried about the effects of flying in a non-pressurized plane, but she's not willing to wait weeks longer for a larger aircraft to arrive. "I've always thought I was a tough cookie, a calm gal in the face of adversity, but now, that's making me rethink this," she says. "I'm actually kind of jittery, but I cannot wait any longer."

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