Monday, December 31, 2012

A blow at 30,000 feet saves dying doctor on flight

CHENNAI: A 46-year-old surgeon got a fresh lease of life, literally, on board a Kolkata-Chennai flight that was cruising at 30,000 feet on Saturday night. He fell unconscious and lost all pulse but was revived miraculously after a doctor who was on board gave a strong blow to the rib cage close to the heart. He sat up as if woken up from a deep slumber.

About 30 minutes after the IndiGo flight took off from Kolkata, the passenger fell unconscious. Thankfully, the flight had around half a dozen doctors returning to Chennai after an annual conference. Dr J S Rajkumar, chairman of Lifeline Hospitals, who was one of the first to rush to his help, said it was a shocking experience which taught several others a valuable lesson about the importance of Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR).

"Assessing him rapidly, we saw to our horror that he had no pulse, even in his neck, and was ice cold and unresponsive. He was dead for all practical purposes," said Dr Raj Kumar. "I have never felt such cold skin in my life. I gave a strong pericardial thump (a strong blow to the rib cage in front of the heart) and he jumped back to life! His pulse and blood pressure returned to normal," he said. The revived passenger is a surgeon at Vijaya Hospital.

The doctors had told the crew that the plane would have to land in Bhubaneswar if the passenger's condition didn't improve. But once he was revived, the doctors told them he was doing fine and there was no need to make the unscheduled landing. "He did not know what happened to him when he was without pulse for less than four minutes. It is a heart condition and needed monitoring for 24 hours. We sat beside him throughout the flight," said Raj Kumar. The passenger was driven to Vijaya Hospital for further monitoring as soon as the flight landed in Chennai. An IndiGo official said the incident was not reported to airport authorities as the passenger was in good condition.

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