Is there a doctor on the plane? Hospital staff step in to help passenger

PUBLISHED: 10:43 25 February 2020 | UPDATED: 10:14 26 February 2020

Arivalagan Sivakkolunthu, winner of the Sir James Paget Award for Innovation, with Ben Thompson from Lings Motor Group. Picture: Simon Stevens

Arivalagan Sivakkolunthu, winner of the Sir James Paget Award for Innovation, with Ben Thompson from Lings Motor Group. Picture: Simon Stevens


A doctor and nurse returning from their holiday stepped in to help a man for seven hours after he was taken ill on their flight.

Ari Sivakkolunthu, a trainee surgeon, and diabetes specialist nurse Joana Roriz, who both work at the James Paget University Hospital, came to the man's aid on the British Airways flight from Mexico.

The pair were returning home from Cancun earlier this month when, two hours into the nine-hour journey, they responded to an appeal for doctors.

The man reported he had been in pain and had been vomiting over the previous 12 hours, with had a swollen stomach. He also had a history of previous surgery.

Using medical equipment on the plane, the pair were able to stabilise the man until they touched down in London, seven hours later.

Mr Sivakkoluthu, Miss Roriz, cabin crew and another GP treated the man.

They received a standing ovation from passengers when they arrived at London Gatwick.

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The man was transferred to waiting paramedics.

Mr Sivakkolunthu, who has worked at the Gorleston hospital since 2014, said: "When I asked the crew what they had on board I was really impressed with the kit they brought - including cannulas, intravenous fluids and medication.

"Joana came to assist with getting his line in and we set up an IV using a hanger to put the drip up in the cabin.

"We liaised with a specialist in the USA to ensure we were doing everything possible for him and we continued on to Gatwick, monitoring his blood pressure and making sure he was comfortable."

It is not the first time the trainee surgeon has come to a fellow passenger's aid- after previously dealing with another medical emergency on an Air India flight.

On that occasion he used the paracetamol he had on him and medication from others on board to treat a passenger until further medical help could be obtained.

Mr Sivakkolunthu added: "It felt really good that I was able to help him - he had been in so much pain and I was pleased that we were there and able to assist."

The doctor was presented with two bottles of champagne from the crew.

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