They say a doctor is always on duty. Such is the nature of their job that it goes beyond their regular work and work hours because more than a profession it is considered to be a service to society and humanity. Living up to this in its true spirit, a Thane-based doctor, who was returning after a vacation in Dubai, saved a life of a passenger at the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport on Sunday night.
Dr Gayatri Patankar, an anaesthesiologist, was returning from a family vacation in Dubai when she noticed an unconscious man in wheelchair and commotion around him with people talking about the awaiting medical help.
The passenger identified as Neelmani Sharma was said to be returning from
Thailand and had suddenly fallen unconscious at the luggage collecting area of the airport around 11.30 pm.
“He was pulseless, cynosed (bluish discoloration of skin). I immediately offered my help and asked people to get him on the floor,” said Patankar.
She then started giving him cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) – a lifesaving technique to maintain circulation and breathing. “I immediately put two bags beneath his leg for proper blood circulation, started giving him cardiac massage. Within 3-5 minutes, the airport staff provided me emergency kit. Defibrillator (a device that gives a high energy electric shock to the heart through the chest wall to someone who is in cardiac arrest) was used to give him shock, started ventilating him. Since there was no oxygen cylinder, an ambu bag was used. Injection Adrenaline was given. I intubated the patient too for effective ventilation,” said Patankar.
It took 15 minutes before Sharma’s heart was revived. “He was shifted to the hospital. I am informed that he is in Intensive Care Unit (ICU). Though he had a severe cardiac arrest, he had no brain damage, no aspiration. He is stable but has been diagnosed with renal artery stenosis and will undergo bypass surgery in couple of days. He also has a history of high blood pressure,” said Patankar.
The instances of deaths due to Sudden Cardiac Arrests (SCA) have been on the rise due to long working hours, hectic lifestyle and unhealthy eating habits, say doctors.
Unfortunately, an SCA does not happen only to people who suffer from heart diseases or with age or only to men. SCAs are unrelated to age, sex, existing heart ailments and family history.
A sudden cardiac arrest is a condition where the heart stops functioning without any warning – if not addressed immediately it leads to unexpected death within 60 minutes. The survival rate in SCR is less than 1% as the medical services do not reach on time. Experts however say that if SCA is treated within the first 4-6 min more than 95% of lives can be saved.
Reaching hospital on time or getting an appropriately equipped ambulance within 10 minutes plays a crucial role in saving SCR patient.
“In such cases, bystanders should first figure out whether the patient is unconscious (with heart still beating) or has suffered a cardiac arrest. There is a window period of 3 minutes after the arrest when we can revive the patient by giving Cardiopulmonary Resuscitations (CPR)” said Dr Sudhir Pillai, cardiologist, PD Hinduja Hospital.
As per the updated American Heart Association guidelines, if the patient is unresponsive, the person giving CPR should start giving chest compressions first and improve circulation and then try reviving airway and breathing by mouth to mouth resuscitation, said Pillai.
Patankar said public places like airport, malls, and theatres should be prepared for emergency like this. “An international airport like Mumbai should have a dedicated medical room, doctors, oxygen cylinder. The first 5 minutes in such cases are very crucial,” said Patankar.