Five doctors from Delhi are being hailed as heroes today after they saved a child’s life during a mid-air medical emergency on board a Vistara Airlines flight from Bengaluru. The five – from Delhi’s All India Institute of Medical Sciences – were alerted to a two-year cyanotic female child returning from Bengaluru after undergoing open-heart surgery and spent a frantic 45 minutes repeatedly reviving the young girl, and ensuring she was alive and breathing by the time the flight was diverted to Nagpur.
NDTV spoke to one of the five doctors, Dr Damandeep Singh, on board that flight for an insight into what happened and the stressful situation that erupted less than half-an-hour after take-off.
“We were coming back from Bengaluru to Delhi after attending a conference. We boarded at 9 pm and were scheduled to land around midnight. However, around 30 minutes into the flight there was a distress call… we (the five doctors on board) had a cyanotic child who had had open-heart surgery in Bengaluru. The child was unconscious and had no pulse… so we isolated her,” Dr Singh told NDTV.
“I had four colleagues with me and we followed resuscitation protocols using limited medical resources available… we used basic items like oxygen cylinders, chest compression and the plane’s first aid kit.”
Dr Singh outlined how his colleagues and he worked frantically to deliver life-saving medical care, including intubating – or inserting a tube into the patient’s body to help them breathe – the young girl.
“We requested the pilot to divert to Nagpur (in Maharashtra). On landing, we ensured the child’s stables were vital and handed her over to a paediatrician,” the doctor told NDTV. “It was very stressful… the child did not revive at first and we had to work for 45 minutes without giving up hope.”
It was a 2 year old cyanotic female child who was operated outside for intracardiac repair , was… pic.twitter.com/crDwb1MsFM
— AIIMS, New Delhi (@aiims_newdelhi) August 27, 2023
Fortunately for the child, she had five excellent doctors on her flight and also an AED, or automated external defibrillator. An AED is a portable electronic device that delivers an electric shock through the chest to the heart when it detects an abnormal rhythm, and restores that rhythm to normal.
The young girl’s vitals are stable and she is expected to make an excellent recovery, Dr Singh said.
Amid the praise flooding in for the doctors and their institute, Dr Manpreet Kaur, an Assistant Professor at AIIMS’ Dr RP Centre for Ophthalmic Sciences, told NDTV the medical community is proud of the skill and dedication of the five doctors who were on board the Vistara flight.
“All five were residents-in-training and still they stepped up to save the child’s life. This speaks of the quality of training imparted… even though it was a high-stress moment, one that could test even experienced doctors, these five managed to use basic resources and still save the child’s life.”
Dr Kaur also had a few words of advice to anyone who may find themselves in similar situations, explaining, “Most important… do not panic. If you are not qualified and someone is helping them… then make space. Doctors attending to a patient don’t need people crowding around and taking selfies.”