A doctor on board an Air China flight managed to save the life of a passenger suffering a seizure mid-flight using a few toothpicks and a spoon last week.
Thirty-eight-year-old Dr Tian Yu, a medic from the rheumatology department of Shanghai’s Longhua Hospital, was travelling on a domestic flight from Kashgar to Urumqi in the Xinjiang province of western China when a fellow male passenger in his thirties was found to be unconscious and foaming at the mouth, the Shanghai Daily newspaper reported.
Dr Yu appeared on the scene when he heard an in-flight announcement calling for a doctor on board. After deducing the flier was suffering from epilepsy, the doctor asked cabin crew for a spoon and a towel.
He reportedly used his fingers to remove the vomit from the patient’s mouth to prevent the passenger from choking. He then wrapped the towel around the spoon before placing it inside the man’s mouth to keep him from biting his own tongue, the Daily Mail reported.
Dr Yu, who is reported to have a background in Chinese medicine and previously worked as an emergency ward doctor for seven years, used the toothpicks to apply pressure to key acupuncture points, including the baihui aperture and sishencong aperture, around the patient’s head in an attempt to “activate the brain”, according to the Asia Wire Report (AWR).
Due to plane restrictions, “There was no needle available on the plane, and toothpicks were the best replacement I could find,” the doctor told the Shanghai Daily.
The patient was reported to have regained consciousness after five minutes of being stimulated with toothpicks, and was then able to sit up and ask for water. About 20 minutes later, the patient was collected by paramedics for further treatment after the plane landed at Urumqi Diwopu International Airport.
The sick passenger was said to have suffered epileptic seizures in the past but had not been taking medication, according to the patient’s friends.
Dr Yu was reported to have advised the patient to travel with epilepsy medication on future flights to avoid similar incidents, warning that the “changes in air pressure and lack of oxygen on board are conditions that can easily induce seizures,” he told AWR.