Indian-born doctor rescues man who collapsed after two cardiac arrests on London-Bengaluru flight

A doctor was able to save the life of a Birmingham passenger who nearly died twice during a ten-hour flight. According to details shared on the official website of University Hospitals Birmingham (UHB), the doctor has been identified as Vishwaraj Vemala, a consultant hepatologist with their NHS Foundation Trust. Apparently, the doctor was flying from the UK to India with his mother to visit their hometown in Bengaluru. Everything was normal until a cabin crew started calling a doctor.

Vemala, who volunteered to help, found a person in cardiac arrest. The passenger, who would be 43 years old, had no medical history. He collapsed in the aisle of the plane and when the doctor examined him, he apparently had no pulse and was not breathing at the time. It took him an hour to resuscitate him, during which Vemala asked staff if there was a medical kit on board. In the accounts of events shared by the doctor, he was completely surprised to see that the kit included life-sustaining resuscitation drugs.

But the problem arose when he couldn’t track patients’ vital signs due to less equipment. It was then that the entire flight also volunteered to help by lending the doctor a heart rate monitor, blood pressure monitor, blood glucose monitor and pulse oximeter. These accumulated devices help him keep tabs on patients’ vital signs. But the challenges seemed endless when the patient suffered another cardiac arrest and this time it took longer for the doctor to resuscitate him.

“In total he was without a good pulse or decent blood pressure for almost two hours of the flight, alongside the cabin crew we were trying to keep him alive for a total of five hours,” the doctor informed while adding that It was an emotionally frightening experience for everyone. After reviewing the patient’s condition, the doctor asked the pilot to clear an emergency landing. Initially, they planned to land at the nearest airfield in Pakistan, but their requests were denied. Finally, the emergency landing was arranged at the Mumbai airport, where an emergency team was ready to take care of the patient.

While sharing his experience, the doctor said, “As a consultant hepatologist, I deal with extremely ill patients and patients who have had liver transplants, but I don’t think I’ve ever treated cardiac arrest in the framework of my work”. He never thought his medical training could help someone 40,000 feet in the air. When the emergency team attended to the patient, he reportedly burst into tears to thank the doctor. During this time, the incident also became something the doctor will never forget for the rest of his life.

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