Houston doctors save unconscious man on plane

By Haley Hernandez - Health Reporter

HOUSTON - A woman on board a Southwest flight from Atlanta to Houston had to scream for a doctor when her husband started to lose consciousness.

To everyone's surprise, a lot of passengers on the plane stood up.

"The man became sweaty, pale, and his heart rate slowed way down, which helps prevent profusion to his brain, so we knew we needed to get him stable," said Dr. Jeffery Aycock of UTMB, passenger on the plane. 

“We were returning to Houston from an annual meeting at the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, so there were probably more than usual number of doctors on this particular flight,” TCH immunologist Dr. Lenora Noroski said.

There were about two dozen doctors on board, officials said.

Noroski and Aycock were just a few of the passengers who answered the panicked plea for a doctor.

“If that was going to happen on a flight, what a great flight for it to happen on. There were so many smart individuals on that flight, the brain trust on that flight, I was just lucky to be part of it,” Aycock said.

Officials said five doctors were able to position the man’s seat into a bed so they could lay him down and properly open his airway to maintain his oxygen flow for an expedited landing.

Aycock said the man continued to improve and he quickly regained consciousness in the 25-minute descent.

“The patient did well, actually, so there was no other problem, and the patient ended up being responsive and alert and back to his usual self,” Noroski said. 

By the time the plane landed in Houston, paramedics were waiting to take him to a hospital.

The five doctors who assisted the man were: Dr Jeff Aycock, UTMB Galveston Oral Surgeon Galveston & former paratrooper, Dr. Andrew Grant, Professor of Internal Medicine from UTMB Galveston, Dr. Kristin Moore, allergist of Houston Allergy & ENT, Dr. Lenora Noroski, Allergist/Immunologist from Texas Children's Hospital and Dr. David Corry, Pulmonologist at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston.

Here is a statement issued by Southwest Airlines:

"On Monday afternoon, while flying from Atlanta to Houston on Flight 1833, we had a Customer who needed medical assistance while inflight. Flight Crews jumped right into action to tend to the Customer and requested assistance from medical personnel onboard. We are beyond grateful for the aid provided by several medical professionals to stabilize the passenger. The flight landed safely in Houston and was met by local medical staff."

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