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Chinese doctor treats unconscious passenger on Doha to Guangzhou flight

(People's Daily Online)    17:12, March 11, 2019

When a passenger suddenly fell into a coma on an international flight from Doha to Guangzhou on March 10, Huang Zhen, an associate professor at the Cancer Hospital Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, helped in the emergency treatment at an altitude of 10,000 meters, potentially saving the passenger's life.

Huang works between the Shenzhen Branch of the Cancer Hospital Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences and Shenzhen Cancer Hospital. After attending an international academic conference in Spain, he flew back to Guangzhou via Doha on Qatar Airways Flight QR874. Shortly after the plane took off, he heard the emergency call for a doctor.

Knowing that a passenger on the plane was in a coma with what seemed like internal bleeding, he rushed to the sick passenger. Initial examination revealed that the patient's bleeding was due to biting his finger caused by a sudden convulsion rather than hematemesis. Huang judged that the patient's unconsciousness was likely caused by epilepsy. Huang carefully inquired about the passenger’s medical history, and it turned out the passenger did indeed have epilepsy.

As the passenger regained consciousness, he was short of breath and could not communicate properly, and the sphygmomanometer, oximeter and other equipment weren't of any use due to the flight's altitude.

Huang diagnosed that although the patient's condition was severe, as he gradually regained consciousness, the aircraft would not need to return to Doha.

Huang also contacted Qatar Airway’s ground medical staff. They also diagnosed that the patient had a seizure, possibly due to hypoglycemia-induced epilepsy. However, due to the inability to detect blood sugar levels on board, Huang decided to give the patient sugar water to raise his glucose levels regardless of whether it was caused by hypoglycemia.

At 3 pm, the flight landed smoothly at Guangzhou Baiyun Airport, and the passenger was immediately taken to the hospital. When Huang got off the plane, the Qatar Airways crew expressed their sincere gratitude to the Chinese doctor. “To deal with such an emergency, we need someone who is capable of holding the situation. Thank you for holding it," said one flight attendant.

After the event, Huang offered his advice to other people with epilepsy who may be traveling on long-haul flights. "Long-distance travel easily causes fatigue. Epilepsy is easily induced in the cramped conditions on a plane over a long period of time. We recommend patients carry information cards with them, indicating their illness, medical history, and emergency contacts so that others can better assist in the case of an emergency,” he noted. 

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Sheng Chuyi, Bianji)

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