- A doctor battled to save the life of passenger whose heart stopped twice on an Air India flight.
- Vishwaraj Vemala was flying with his mother when the man suffered a heart attack.
- The 43-year-old man was resuscitated after an hour, but then stopped breathing a second time.
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A doctor battled for hours to save the life of a passenger whose heart stopped twice on a flight from the UK to India.
Vishwaraj Vemala was flying on Air India with his mother to Bangalore when a passenger collapsed and stopped breathing.
The consultant hepatologist who works at the University Hospitals of Birmingham began attempting to revive the 43-year-old man, according to a news release.
"It took about an hour of resuscitation before I was able to get him back. During this time, I asked the cabin crew on board if they had any medication," Velama said. "Luckily, they had an emergency kit, which to my utter surprise, included resuscitative medication to enable life support."
Vemala, who only had oxygen and an automated external defibrillator available, then asked passengers on board if they had any equipment that could assist him.
He was able to find a heart-rate monitor, blood pressure machine, pulse oximeter, and glucose meter to monitor the patient's vital signs, per the release.
The man then suffered another heart attack and Vemala said it took far longer to revive him the second time. "He was without a good pulse or decent blood pressure for nearly two hours of the flight. Alongside the cabin crew, we were trying to keep him alive for five hours in total."
He added: "It was extremely scary for us all, especially the other passengers, and it was quite emotional."
The pilot requested permission to land at an airport in Pakistan, but the request was rejected. The plane instead landed in Mumbai, where emergency staff were waiting on the ground.
"By the time we landed the passenger had been resuscitated and was able to speak with me. Nevertheless, I insisted he go to a hospital to be checked over," Vemala said.
"The patient thanked me with tears in his eyes. He said: 'I am forever indebted to you for saving my life'."
It was the first time that Vemala had treated a cardiac arrest. "During my medical training, it was something I had experience dealing with, but never 40,000 feet in the air," he said.
"It was also the first time in my seven years as a consultant that my mum had seen me 'in action,' so to speak, so that made it even more emotional – she was crying a lot."
Air India didn't immediately respond to a request for comment by Insider.