Doctor Uses Hair Tie, Whiskey to Save Man's Life — In Flight

A Pennsylvania doctor used her hair tie and some whiskey to help a sick passenger aboard a flight from Philadelphia to San Francisco.

Doctor Patricia Quinlan of Lehigh Valley Hospital was on her way to San Francisco Thanksgiving Day when a man across the aisle fell out of his seat.

When it became obvious he hadn't just fallen asleep, she went into help mode and discovered his blood pressure was dangerously low and his heart beat, irregular, according to The Morning Call.

U.S. & World

Stories that affect your life across the U.S. and around the world.

Harris Prepares for Central Role in Biden's White House

Virus Updates: California Is 1st State to Reach 3M Cases; US Tops 24M Cases

Quinlan used the plane's AED or automated external defibrillator to figure out the 59-year-old man did not have a life-threatening blockage because his heart rhythm was normal. But to stabilize her patient at 35,000 feet in the air, she had to use a little ingenuity along with the help of a nurse and emergency medical technician who were among the passengers.

Major airlines are required to carry close to 30 items in their emergency medical kits, including about 16 ounces of saline solution, the most common intravenous solution patients are given to replace fluids. A United Airlines representative didn’t know why Dr. Quinlan had to use a makeshift tourniquet and disinfectant.

As Quinlan and her team prepared their patient for the IV, another passenger offered his belt for a tourniquet, but it was too big so Quinlan used her hair tie. Then she used whiskey from the bar cart to disinfect the IV needle. Still other passengers pitched in by shining the lights on their smartphones so Quinlan could see. It took about 90 minutes to get him stabilized.

"I think he was just probably very, very dehydrated," she said.

The United Airlines flight crew nicknamed her "Doctor Angel" and gave Dr. Quinlan a thank-you note for going "above and beyond."

Contact Us