Dr. Cyriac Abby Philips, with his quick intervention, saves a passenger’s life who is having a complication in breathing and also encountering low oxygen levels and high blood pressure. The doctor shared their experience of the incident at the Akasa Air flight through the social media platform X.
The entire incident happened on the night of January 14, on an Akasa Air flight that was traveling from Kochi to Mumbai.
Dr. Cyriac, who is called TheLiverDoc on the X platform, wrote in his post that, as a doctor, the first time he actually used a stethoscope after three and a half years was on a mid-air flight.
He expressed that on his flight from Kochi to Mumbai via Akasa Air, he was tired from work, so he tried to take a nap. The passenger who was sitting next to him commenced the intricacies of breathing. The air hostess took on to plug in the man's nebulizer for emergency inhalational treatment, and he also helped her to get the machine running. The man spoke in broken sentences. He had an oximeter, which showed that the oxygen saturation was 36%.
When Dr. Abby asked the man if he had asthma, the man denied it. Dr. Cyriac further added that he was confused as the man was wearing a nebulization kit. So he asked for the stethoscope and found that the man's left-side lung sounds were completely absent and that it was water-filled (a condition called pleural effusion).
The man in between the breaths told the doctor that his kidneys were bad. Dr. Cyriac asked the man if he was on dialysis, and he said that he was on it three days a week, and the next was planned for the next day. And his medications were over last night. While going through the man's unlocked phone images, he found the last prescriptions. Most were for high blood pressure. On checking his blood pressure, it was 280/160, and he was in accelerated hypertension with drowning lungs. They had an hour to land for emergency medical services to attend to him. They had to keep him alive.
Dr. Cyriac also added that he had no idea what happened next, but it felt like he was inside an ICU and had to make quick decisions. A double puncture was done on only the accessible vein on the right side, but further access was lost. The other limb had a dialysis fistula, which can't be used by the doctor. So he gave a frusemide injection into his buttock muscles (it has been a very long time since he gave an adult an intramuscular injection). He told him it was going to be painful, but there were no other options. It was difficult to find a vein as he was stumbling and the flight was a bit turbulent.
The crew members of Akasa Air helped the doctor, and they quickly arranged and changed the oxygen cylinders, which helped the passenger get his oxygen saturation above 90%. In the flight ER kit, some blood pressure-lowering medications helped the man; he swallowed in between breaths.
The flight landed before the scheduled time, and the man was lethargic and still breathless, but his blood pressure was controlled. He was moved to the nearby hospital. Dr. Cyriac talked to the family of the man, and he said that the next day, his family messaged him that the patient was well. In the evening after the podcast recording, the patient called me after he was shifted out of ICU post-emergency dialysis.
Akasa Air replied to Dr. Cyriac's post, “We are extremely grateful for your quick response and immediate assistance, which was instrumental in saving the life of a fellow passenger onboard our flight QP 1519. Our crew members, Dhanya, Zargaam, Arnav, and Kiritika in the cabin, and Munish and Neha from the flight deck were privileged to have you as a crucial part of the team. Thank you once again for exemplifying the true spirit of care and compassion.”
(Input from various sources)