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How five doctors saved the life of an 18-month-old girl mid-air on Bengaluru-Delhi flight

In a remarkable display of medical expertise and teamwork, a 1.5-year-old girl, who had stopped breathing while in mid-air, was saved by a group of five doctors on a Vistara flight from Bengaluru to Delhi. The doctors were returning from a medical conference.

The incident unfolded 30 minutes after the flight’s takeoff from Bengaluru, when the crew issued a medical distress call mid-air. Responding to the emergency, four senior residents from AIIMS and one doctor from the Institute of Liver and Biliary Sciences, who were on their way back from an Indian Society for Vascular and Interventional Radiology conference in Bengaluru, stepped in to help, according to a TOI report by Anuja Jaiswal.

Dr. Singh, one of the doctors on board, noted that the child was found to be cyanotic, characterized by a bluish tint of the skin and mucous membranes due to inadequate oxygen in the blood.

They employed techniques like head tilt, jaw thrust, and chin lift, to maintain the child’s airway. Positive pressure ventilation was administered using an adult-sized face mask attached to an ambu bag, along with a pediatric oropharyngeal airway. Chest compressions adhered to the pediatric life support protocol. Remarkably, in the absence of dedicated medical equipment, the doctors ingeniously repurposed an on-board emergency oxygen mask’s tubing to connect the ambu bag to an oxygen cylinder.

Under challenging circumstances and limited resources, the doctors succeeded in securing an intravenous line on their first attempt. They administered emergency drugs, primarily adrenaline, at regular intervals based on the child’s weight. The medical team even utilized an automated external defibrillator on the flight to deliver cardiac shocks while maintaining continuous CPR. Dr. Damandeep reported that after 45 minutes of these concerted efforts, the child’s pulse returned, indicating a restoration of spontaneous circulation.

Facing the absence of an ECG monitor and oxygen saturation probe to track the child’s heart rate and oxygen levels, the flight’s pilot was promptly informed to land at the closest airport, Nagpur, a mere 20 minutes away. The plane touched down around 10:30 pm, allowing the child, now stabilized, to be handed over to an awaiting pediatrician who had arrived in an ambulance on the tarmac.The flight, UK-814, initially departed Bangalore at 9 pm on Sunday and was scheduled to reach Delhi at 11:45 pm. Among the doctors who performed this life-saving intervention were Dr. Navdeep Kaur from the anesthesia department, Dr. Oishika Chakraborty from obstetrics and gynecology, Dr. Avichala Taxak specializing in cardiac radiology and endovascular interventions, Dr. Damandeep Singh, and Dr. Rishabh Jain, associated with ILBS.

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