The patient was fighting for his life and without a special lung and heart procedure – called extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) – he would die.
But the hospital in the town of Bodo in central Norway, where he was being treated, had neither the equipment nor the skills to carry out the complex last-ditch treatment.
A hospital in Trondheim, about 450 kilometres to the south, did, however, have a machine available.
Staff there contacted the air force on April 4th for help in transporting the equipment – a request that came in just as two F-16 fighter jets were getting ready to take off from an airbase near Trondheim, the reports said.
“They didn't ask any questions, except for what size the machine was,” Anders Wetting Carlsen, chief doctor at Trondheim's Saint Olaf hospital, told AFP.
In a stroke of good luck, one of the fighter jets was equipped with an external hold that allowed it to transport equipment. The machine was loaded onto the aircraft, which made for Bodo at top speed.
“Usually we cover that distance in 35 minutes,” air squadron head Borge Kleppe told Norwegian daily Verdens Gang.
“But given the special nature of the cargo, the pilot stepped on it and arrived at the destination less than 25 minutes later,” he added.