In a five-hour effort, a British Indian liver specialist managed to save a passenger’s life during a long-haul journey on an Air India flight from London to Bengaluru.

As per a blog by University Hospitals Birmingham, the 48-year-old doctor at Birmingham’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Dr Vishwaraj Vemala, was travelling with his mother to India when a fellow passenger complained of cardiac arrest.

The blog mentioned that the medical professional was flying on Air India’s Bengaluru-bound flight to take his mother back to their hometown, Bengaluru.

However, he became a life saviour for a 43-year-old man who had suffered cardiac arrest twice during the 10-hour-long flight. 

The report revealed that the troubled cabin crew on the AI128 flight started calling for a doctor when a passenger went into cardiac arrest.

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Air India flight had emergency kit

“It took about an hour of resuscitation before I was able to get him back. During this time, I asked the cabin crew on board if they had any medication,” NHS quoted the doctor as saying.

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“Luckily, they had an emergency kit, which to my utter surprise, included resuscitative medication to enable life support. Apart from oxygen and an automated external defibrillator, there was no other equipment on board to monitor how he was doing,” he added.

Doctor had never tended to heart patients

Dr Vishwaraj also mentioned that he had never tended to any heart patients in his entire career but had seen how to tackle these cases during his medical training. 

During the flight, the man, with no previous medical history, collapsed in the aeroplane aisle and went into cardiac arrest.


Vishwaraj attended to the passenger, who at the time did not have a pulse and was not breathing, and attempted to resuscitate him.

On asking other passengers, the doctor also got his hands on a heart-rate monitor, blood pressure machine, pulse oximeter and glucose meter to monitor the patient’s vital signs.

While speaking with Dr Vishwaraj, the passenger went into cardiac arrest for a second time, and this time it took longer to resuscitate him.

“In total, he was without a good pulse or decent blood pressure for nearly two hours of the flight, alongside the cabin crew, we were trying to keep him alive for five hours in total. It was extremely scary for us all, especially the other passengers, and it was quite emotional,” said the doctor.

Pakistan denied emergency landing

The report also mentioned that the pilot tried to get permission to land at the nearest airfield in Pakistan, but the request was denied. 

Fortunately, the doctor said that Mumbai Airport allowed the flight to land and arranged for an emergency crew to handle the passenger.

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“I remember it was extremely emotional for us all when we heard we could land in Mumbai. By the time we landed, the passenger had been resuscitated and was able to speak with me. Nevertheless, I insisted he go to a hospital to be checked over,” the doctor said.

The doctor also recalled how the passenger thanked him with teary eyes and said that he will be indebted to him ‘for saving his life’.

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