Anaesthesiologists save woman's life mid-air by making breathing device during flight

Dr Roshan Radhakrishnan

Authors's note -

Just a quick update on something that is a matter of huge pride for me - I got chosen by Feedspot as one of the 'Top 100 Writing Blogs & Websites.' An added moment of joy is that I debuted at #27, making me the highest ranked Indian in the list, albeit temporarily, I'm sure. 
Check out where your rank figures in the list by adding your details and having them check your website out in detail.  

And now, back to the real life hero of the day.

This incident occurred in Januray 2018. About 20 minutes into a JetBlue flight to Jamaica, an elderly woman started struggling to breathe. When reassurance by the air hostess failed to help, a nurse nearby tried to intervene. That was when the crew realized that the woman's condition was extremely serious. In fact, things took a rapid turn for the worse when the woman stopped breathing. 

As fate would have it, seated in the same flight were not one but two doctors specially trained to deal with emergencies and critical conditions - anaesthesiologists Dr John Flanagan and Matthew Stevenson. 

two doctors

Quickly realizing the gravity of the situation, the two took charge. When they realized that the masks in the flight were not the ones that could help the dying woman in this situation, they used the oxygen tanks on board along with the tubing that holds the oxygen masks to the ceiling and a self-inflating airbag to create the tools needed to save her. With the woman still not breathing, the two then actively pushed oxygen into her lungs for 45 minutes straight, kneeling in the middle of the aisle as the plane made an emergency landing.

"There was a moment when we thought she might not make it but we managed to get her hooked up somehow and she started to come round a bit." 
- Dr John Flanagan

two doctors saving a life inside an aircraft

Fellow passengers assisted by holding onto the doctors as the aircraft began to descend, stopping them from falling down the aisle. The unrelenting efforts put in by the doctors worked and the woman was successfully resuscitated by the time emergency medical crews entered the flight after landing.

"I was so touched to see so many kind people on board support my husband and his friend as they were helping that lady. You couldn’t really tell by the pics but there were people holding my husband and Matthew up so they wouldn’t slide down the aisle when we were landing. Everyone, including the crew were strapped in expect for them. John saves lives every day, its his job. But it was terrifying and amazing for me. They were working on this lady for about 45 minutes, breathing for her. John and Matthew were so calm and didn't panic. When we finally landed the woman was awake again. I hear the occasional story about what John does at work but my husband never takes credit for anything. It was beautiful to witness him working and saving a life. I'm so proud." 
- Xenia Flanagan, wife of Dr John Flanagan.

two doctors
Anaesthesiologists John Flanagan and Matthew Stevenson.

Heroes of Kindness:

Since 2017, every year, I take up the #BlogchatterA2Z & #AtoZChallenge and focus on showcasing lovely real-life heroes from around the worldThe aim is to remind you that there is still plenty of good human beings all around you... to inspire you to smile once more.
You can follow my 2020 Edition of Heroes of Kindness here.

Want more stories of compassion? I have Hundreds of 'Heroes of Kindness' to brighten your day here:

2017 edition (Articles - 40, Heroes - 67)
2018 edition (Articles - 34, Heroes - 52)
2019 edition (Articles - 31, Heroes - 42)

Heroes of Kindness - My Interviews


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Let me know what you think.

  1. Such a beautiful and inspiring write... Miracles of healing and unity..

  2. Old lady was plain lucky to have her pulled back from the jaws of death. Hats off to the doctor duo for not giving up hope for 45 minutes. That sure is indication of the strength of their character and complete dedication to their job...job of saving people. Salute to Dr Fanagan and Dr Stevenson.

  3. Hope luck and presence of mind.Kudos to Dr Fanagan and Dr Stevenson

  4. Thank goodness for doctors on board. In 2009 my father collapsed on the plane from New York to New Zealand. Thank God for 2 doctors on board who saved his life. I am eternally grateful to them. Plane did an emergency land in Frankfurt. The hospital staff including doctors there were just amazing in also looking after my mother who was just petrified. And hats off to the Singapore Airlines crew who helped her through a difficult time. God Bless them all.

    Suzy Someday Somewhere Letter F

  5. Mr. John & Mr. Matthew are two real life heroes. I salute them.
    Thank you Dr. Roshan for sharing this story. Keep up the good work.

  6. This story particularly made me feel happy of what my daughter is doing. Thanks for sharing this story.

  7. And you are back with your heroes of kindness series. A very heart warming incident you have in this post.

  8. An amazing display of humanity by not only the doctors but all the others who assisted them on board the aircraft

  9. Thinking on their feet and their out of box thinking saved the lady. True heroes indeed. Thanks for sharing. Here's mine:

  10. Thank God that there were responsible doctors like them to save the old woman. True soldiers and doctors are never off duty. #respect

  11. Even with all their skills that is truly impressive what they did on a flight in emergency conditions. Weekends In Maine

  12. That's great to hear about these heroes.

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