Dr. Patricia Quinlan Saves Man On Flight After He Loses Consciousness

Dr. Patricia Quinlan may have possibly saved a man’s life after she sprang into action when she noticed the 59-year-old passenger slumped over in his seat. This incredible story is quickly going viral across social media networks, and many are calling Dr. Quinlan, a physician with the Lehigh Valley Hospital Network, “Dr. Angel.” As reported by Yahoo News, the heroic doctor used her hair tie, masking tape, whiskey, and smartphones to save the life of a man on her Thanksgiving Day flight.

Dr. Quinlan, who was on United Airlines Flight 653 from Philadelphia to San Francisco, began her course of action when she saw the passenger across the aisle from her suddenly lost consciousness and fell out of his seat.

“I thought, Hopefully, he just fell asleep,” Dr. Quinlan recalled.

Initially, she didn’t suspect anything was wrong and her first thought was that he had just slumped over after falling asleep. However, she decided to go check on him anyway, and was shocked to learn that both his pulse and his blood pressure were at critically low levels. Upon discovering that the man’s life was in danger, she notified the plane’s crew members who then gave her an automated external defibrillator that was on board. The portable electronic device is often used to treat sudden cardiac arrest by checking the heart rhythm and sending an electric shock to the heart to try to restore a normal rhythm.

According to a report from the Morning Call, Dr. Quinlan hooked it to the man’s chest and discovered he had a normal heart rhythm, which meant he wasn’t suffering from any kind of blockage in his coronary arteries.

“The pilot asked if we needed to make an emergency landing in Chicago,” Quinlan told the publication. “If I hadn’t had [the defibrillator], I would have said yes.”

Fortunately for the seriously ill passenger, Dr. Quinlan wasn’t the only medical professional on the flight, and she was soon joined by a pediatric intensive care nurse and an EMT who also assisted the man. The team encountered some problems during their rescue, which complicated their life-saving efforts. Since the man was traveling alone, there was no way to determine his medical history. Furthermore, the aircraft was jam-packed with passengers, which forced Quinlan and the others to make their way down the dimly-lit narrow aisle with virtually no room to spare.

Noticing the severity of the situation, several passengers lent a helping hand and used cell phone flashlights to give the team a better view of the patient. A proper tourniquet for the IV was not available, so a passenger offered the team a belt, but it was too big, so the doctor decided to use her hair tie instead.

There was no rubbing alcohol on the plane — which would have been necessary to disinfect the IV needle — so a flight attendant poured whiskey on it to prevent contamination.

After Dr. Quinlan began giving him fluids through an IV, she noticed the IV bag was ruptured.

“The IV bag had a little leak in it, so a woman found masking tape in her pocketbook and we taped it up,” Quinlan explained.


The unidentified man received treatment for nearly two hours before he regained consciousness and was back in his seat.

“I think he was just probably very, very dehydrated. And he had taken blood pressure medicine that morning,” Dr. Quinlan said of the man’s condition.

Road Warrior Voices wrote that when the flight landed in San Francisco, Quinlan was given a thank you note from the flight crew and the pilot personally carried her bags off the plane. She was also given the nickname “Doctor Angel.”

[Image via Facebook]